Skeene confident that TT Pro League has a bright and viable future

Photo: TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene.

Friday 04 March 2016

TT Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene says fear not, the economic downturn will not destroy the Pro League.

Skeene reminded that business is a cycle and the League will overcome and thrive no matter what the challenges.

He said, “Tough decisions will have to be made for the betterment of the business of the League and professional football.

“I am confident in the future of the Pro League and professional football in Trinidad and Tobago. Professional leagues all over the world have their challenges. In any recession all sectors have challenges. It is those owners of businesses who are resilient and innovative and think strategically will survive and thrive. The industry of professional football is no different.

“The MLS in the US took over fifteen years before they derived television revenue and in the process accumulated expenditure and losses to the tune of over US$100 million. It was their commitment to building a great league that made the difference.”
​​Photo: W Connection defender and captain Alvin Jones celebrates scoring in a 2-1 win over Costa Rica champions Deportivo Saprissa in their second-leg game of the CONCACAF Champions League 2015/16 group stage.
Skeene, a Columbia university graduate, said, in a downturn there are challenges.

He continued: “I have had very productive discussions with the Minister, Ministry and the Sport Company. It is a matter of knowing where we are at, given the prevailing market conditions, evaluating the position and then modify the plan to suit the existing environment to overcome the hurdles and take advantage of the existing opportunities.

“All the business community is being faced with similar challenges. There are people who are worse off and those who are better off. The business of sport is now very important.

“This is an opportunity to reassess the business model and strategic plan of the League and clubs. The League has to be innovative, creative and has to make sacrifices just like the rest of the country.

“Each club will have to review its business plan. The League stands ready to work with each club to work with them to identify revenue opportunities and cost deficiencies; to examine the profit and loss and balance sheet items with a view to generating income and cutting expenses.”
​Photo: Central FC players and staff celebrate winning the 2015 Caribbean Club Championship.
The Pro League CEO said interest in professional football and the business of football remains high, locally and internationally, as there are investors and club owners who have applied to enter the Pro League for the upcoming 2016-17 season.

He also said the League’s commercial portfolio of partners continues to grow as well as their individual investments.

“In difficult times people look for cheaper entertainment alternatives and football has all the right ingredients to fulfil,” continued Skeene.

“Change is a reality and even though everybody in the country has to adjust and do their part in making the required sacrifices to help the country come out to a better place. I am confident that the League can do that as we revisit our business plan. The business model has to be adjusted; a review of capital structure has to be undertaken.

“One of the things I am confident in, is where people’s disposable incomes are reduced, the League will become a more important part of people’s entertainment focus.
Photo: W Connection forward Shahdon Winchester (left) evades a challenge from North East Stars captain Keryn Navarro.
“It is a challenging business environment," Skeene said. "but I am confident with review of business and marketing plans, and reengineering the process with the right focus, the league will continue to be the number one in the Caribbean and one day challenge for the CONCACAF Champions League.

“Fear not the League is here to stay. Too much has been invested in the TT Pro League over the past 12 years to give up now. The owners have invested over 200 million dollars. We will survive. We remain focused and understand the importance of the League to football, the youth and communities of Trinidad and Tobago. I remain convinced, once the League is able to get the grounds in the communities, I can guarantee the Minister, Ministry and the national community that no government funding will have to be given to any pro league club after three years.

“The TT Pro League is the vehicle for the young men who have a God given talent to play football for a living, for clubs to represent Trinidad and Tobago in the CONCACAF Champions League and necessary criteria if Trinidad and Tobago is to qualify for a World Cup on a regular basis.

“Fear not professional football is here to stay and will thrive. Like the Chinese we must see this period as one filled with opportunity. It is not unrealistic that new owners will come into the league. It is just a reality. It has happened all over the world. Clubs have fallen out of leagues in past years and others have come in,” Skeene ended.