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$1million for Pro League kings.THE CHAMPION team of the 2013-2014 Digicel Pro League will be pocketing $1 million, while four-time winners, title-holders San Juan Jabloteh, as well as Point Fortin Civic Centre will be making returns to the fray.

Those announcements were made during yesterday’s launch of the 2013- 2014 season at the VIP Lounge, Hasely Crawford Stadium, Mucurapo.

Jabloteh and Point Fortin will join 2012-2013 winners Defence Force, runners-up Caledonia AIA, W Connection, St Ann’s Rangers, North East Stars, Central FC and Police as the nine teams in this year’s tournament. But the cash-strapped TTEC will not be participating.

Action kicks off tomorrow with a doubleheader at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, with Defence Force facing Central FC and Point Fortin tackling Police.

On Saturday, at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Connection will meet Rangers and AIA will be oppose North East.

“The rationale has its genesis in the reality that it costs between $1.4 (million) to $2 million to run a professional football team,” Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene said. “Professional football requires capital and investment. The economics must make sense. Clubs must be in a position to invest in their academies and youth development programmes, while at the same time investing in high quality players.”

Skeene, the former Trinidad and Tobago striker, expressed his hope that the “champion club and runners-up must strive to advance to the knockout stage of the CONCACAF Champions League.”

He also revealed, “this season will see the League play a certain number of games in community fields.”

There will be a number of monthly incentives this season, including the Best Player (a trophy and a $750 voucher from Wendy’s), Best Coach (a trophy and a hamper from Blue Waters) and, for the media, Best Photograph ($500), Best Article ($1,000) and Best Feature ($1,500).

Skeene extended his gratitude to the Ministry of Sports and their various sponsors, including Digicel and First Citizens.”

2014 winners to collect $1m.
By Ian Prescott (Express).


PRO LEAGUE MILLIONAIRES

The first Digicel Pro League millionaire club will be crowned at the end of the 2013-2014 professional football season.

Yesterday, the Pro League announced that its champion club will win a $1 million cash prize, and that a total $2 million in prize-money will be distributed during the season. These are some of the goodies T&T Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene announced yesterday at the official launch of the new season which kicks off tomorrow.

The Pro League first-prize increases from $350,000. Skeene explained that the Pro League was able to increase the top prize due to the input of sponsors Digicel and the Ministry of Sport, and also by restructuring its overall prize structure.

“It has not been an easy road for the Pro League and its directors,” Skeene said, while recalling struggles over the League’s 14-year history. “Without the Ministry of Sport we would not be here.”

Two teams also join the Pro League this season, taking the tally of competing teams to nine. Four-time champions San Juan Jabloteh return after a one-year-absence, and Point Fortin Civic Centre, a former top team in the 1970’s, enter the Pro League for the first time as Point Fortin Football Club. Spokesman for Civic Centre, former national footballer Steve David yesterday announced that they intend on being the deep South team.

“We are planning on making this a community team,” David said. “We hope our people buy into this.”
Former T&TEC coach Reynold Carrington is in charge of the ex-Southern Football Association team, which gets a quick introduction to Pro League football on Friday night when they take on Police in the 8 p.m. in the second match of a double-header in Couva at the Ato Boldon Stadium. Earlier (6 p.m.) champions Defence Force begin their defence of their 2012-2013 Pro League title against Central FC, coached by Englishman Terry Fenwick.

“I think this will be a very challenging season,” Defence Force winger Kevon Carter said. “ Not just because of the trophy, but the prize-money.”

Skeene seem to hold the much-anticipated goodies which the national budget failed to deliver. The CEO announced a new era, saying that the Pro League’s marketing will be taken to a different level. The new marketing thrust began on Tuesday with the Pro League’s first-ever media seminar at the Hyatt hotel. Yesterday both players and coaches alike applauded lustily when Skeene announced the big one-million dollar first prize.

“The economics must make sense,” Skeene declared. “It takes about one million dollars to run a professional football team.”

Other performance incentives announced were a $750 prize and a trophy for the player of the month, courtesy Wendy’s (hamburger establishment) and a hamper for the coach of the month from Blue Waters. Monthly media incentives were also announced for best photo, best story and best feature. Skeene also announced that several Pro League matches will also be played within local communities and not just at the national stadiums.

Wendy Alleyne, marketing and promotions manager at Digicel, said as the Pro League’s title sponsor had remained dedicated during its six-year relationship with the professional league.

“Over the years, Digicel has remained committed to local football at all levels,” Alleyne said. “The Digicel Pro League has been known as the place where the nation’s best compete, and we expect no less in 2013.”