Joe Public, SouthEnd latest to drop out
Story Created: Aug 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM ECT
Story Updated: Aug 12, 2011 at 12:58 AM ECT
THE T&T Pro League has money woes and will also be without one of its top clubs this season following the late withdrawal of Jack Warner’s Joe Public FC from the 2011–2012 campaign.
Joe Public were Pro League champions in 1998, 2006 and 2009, when they won a record five major titles.
Also missing are Ma Pau, who dropped out after last season, and Anthony Rougier’s SouthEnd FC, who could not meet their financial obligations.
In other developments, St Ann’s Rangers have merged with Super League club Queen’s Park Cricket Club (QPCC) to form a new club, Queen’s Park Football Club.
The new Pro League season begins on Friday August 26, with a Super Friday double-header at Manny Ramjohn Stadium, Marabella.
Eight clubs will play this season, including defending champions Defence Force, Caledonia AIA, North East Stars, Police FC, Queen’s Park FC, San Juan Jabloteh, T&TEC FC and W Connection FC.
This year, the Pro League has adopted the European format, which will see the League running from 2011-2012.
The League will run over two rounds and will also consist of four traditional knockout competitions—the First Citizens Cup, Toyota Classic, Lucozade Goal Shield, and Digicel Pro Bowl.
Yesterday, T&T Pro League chief executive officer Dexter Skeene confirmed receiving an official letter from managing director of Joe Public FC, Darryl Warner, outlining the reasons for the withdrawal. However, he declined to share details of Warner’s letter ahead of yesterday’s Pro League board of directors meeting.
Skeene also told the Express of money woes being experienced by the fledging professional league, admitting that funding from the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SPORTT) had been severely cut.
«It takes $5 million to run the Pro League,» Skeene declared. «What we have gotten is $1.2 million and that is from a 2009 subvention of $3 million which we got back then. We have had to cut all types of things.»
But the Pro League boss has put on a brave face and said the show will go on, predicting an exciting season of Pro League football. He said that even amidst this crisis, the League will maintain its prize structure of $350,000 to the champions and prizes down to $20,000 for the last-placed team.
«The ambition and vision to be the best remains alive. The competition among the eight teams will be very keen. In addition, we will launch a new promotion for the Digicel Super Friday games. It will be bigger and better,» he said.
«Professional leagues around the world have survived wars, hurricanes and earthquakes, clubs folding and going bankrupt. Nowhere in the world is running a professional sports league easy. Like any other industry there are always challenges. What is important is that we have a strategic plan to address obstacles and constraints. We must not lose sight of our goals and objectives. It takes an indomitable will and great resilience to build an industry from scratch. The T&T Pro league will stay the course,» said Skeene.
«I refuse to accept that local football is in a deep, dark crisis. Far from it. We must remain focused and not lose concentration.»
Pointing to the fact that the aim of the T&T Pro League is to be in the vanguard of the drive to build a thriving sports industry, the Columbia University graduate believes that the Pro League will prove to its longstanding detractors and critics that it can be viable.