UEFA/CONCACAF Support for T&T Pro League

Some club own­ers of the T&T Pro League (TTPL) are fi­nal­ly warm­ing up to the idea of a change in board com­po­si­tion and the in­tro­duc­tion of a new gov­er­nance struc­ture af­ter 16 years in con­trol and ongoing efforts to be­come self-sus­tain­able and vi­able.

“If we don’t act quick­ly, we are at a risk of con­tin­u­ing an­oth­er 16 years in the same way,” said Cen­tral FC own­er and ex-Min­is­ter of Sport Brent San­cho, who sup­ports the rec­om­men­da­tions of UE­FA AS­SIST dur­ing a three-day fol­low-up work­shop, Road to Strate­gic Plan­ning for the Pro League, at the Fac­ul­ty of So­cial Sci­ences of the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI), St Au­gus­tine Cam­pus which con­clud­ed Thurs­day and was facilitated by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association.

A pos­si­ble out­come, if the TTPL board (which is made up of club own­ers) de­cides to change the com­po­si­tion of the Board and to re­struc­ture gov­er­nance, is a Gen­er­al As­sem­bly made up of the clubs, a new board of rep­re­sen­ta­tives and an ex­ec­u­tive man­age­ment team will be formed to deal with the core re­spon­si­bil­i­ties of the league and ex­e­cu­tion re­spec­tive­ly.

The new board of rep­re­sen­ta­tives could, for ex­am­ple, be made of a three or four clubs’ rep­re­sen­ta­tives, a T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) rep­re­sen­ta­tive, a Min­istry of Sports rep­re­sen­ta­tive and two in­de­pen­dent rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

“It’s re­al­ly the back­bone of the func­tion­ing of the or­gan­i­sa­tion where you have the as­sem­bly which is com­posed of the (club) mem­bers and they elect their board, who is then re­al­ly man­ag­ing and di­rect­ing the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion dur­ing the time they are not meet­ing with the (club) mem­bers,” said Eva Pasquier, head of in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions at Unit­ed Eu­rope Foot­ball Leagues (UE­FA), fol­low­ing a three-day fol­low-up UE­FA AS­SIST work­shop.

“So this sys­tem is very much im­por­tant for good gov­er­nance: for tak­ing de­ci­sions, for con­trol­ling the ac­tiv­i­ties, to tak­ing the de­ci­sions and giv­ing the di­rec­tions of the whole or­gan­i­sa­tion.”

Pasquier added that good gov­er­nance and or­gan­ised or­gan­i­sa­tions are a must nowa­days.

“With­out that, you have thou­sands of peo­ple be­ing re­spon­si­ble for every­thing but do­ing noth­ing. But with good gov­er­nance you have straight di­rec­tion, where to go, how to go, who is re­spon­si­ble for what; there is a con­trol on the place so there are much few­er chances of do­ing the things wrong.

Richard Fakoory, cur­rent chair­man of the TTPL and own­er of St Ann’s Rangers, and Mor­vant Cale­do­nia Unit­ed boss Ja­maal Shabazz al­so voiced their sup­port of the new gov­er­nance struc­ture through­out the work­shop.

Ju­lia Bap­tiste, CEO of the League, said she hopes the cur­rent board of di­rec­tors will take the op­por­tu­ni­ty to put the league on a more sus­tain­able and vi­able foot­ing.

“This is one of the best ways we can plot a way for­ward for the Pro League,” Bap­tiste said. “We are start­ing from the top, and from the top means, there is an agree­ment that we should start with the com­po­si­tion of the board, try to make changes there­in pro­gress­ing for­ward to­wards that sus­tain­able and vi­able fu­ture we know foot­ball could be in T&T. We can’t start be­low when the top re­mains the same.

Pasquier and her UE­FA AS­SIST team of Ken­ny MacLeod, a for­mer com­mer­cial di­rec­tor at the Scot­tish FA, and Dar­iusz Marzec, a for­mer pres­i­dent of the Poland pro­fes­sion­al league, along with Howard McIn­tosh, One CON­CA­CAF and Caribbean Projects Se­nior Man­ag­er, al­so gave rec­om­men­da­tions to the league on com­pe­ti­tions and mar­ket­ing.

“It’s the per­fect time to start think­ing about next sea­son’s league,” said MacLeod. “How to make it en­tic­ing for the fans, for the clubs, and for the coun­try as a whole. We are very keen to look at stream­ing and the broad­cast of these match­es go­ing for­ward as well. So we need to make it in­ter­est­ing. So we are al­so go­ing to draw up a re­view of how the com­pe­ti­tion will be set to make it a more en­gag­ing com­pe­ti­tion.”

MacLeod, how­ev­er, warned that with­out good gov­er­nance “the rest (com­pe­ti­tion and mar­ket­ing) isn’t go­ing to work”.

He ex­plained that the UE­FA AS­SIST team put to­geth­er an ini­tial set of rec­om­men­da­tions dur­ing the April work­shop “but our job over the last cou­ple of days (Tues­day and Wednes­day) was to look at those rec­om­men­da­tions, which ones had been tak­en up and which ones had not. And the de­ci­sion, then, was rather than fo­cus­ing on long-term and the next five years – as you would in a strate­gic plan – we need­ed to still keep it quite a short term. There are still some im­pend­ing fo­cus­es that still need to be done be­fore we think too far ahead of our­selves.”

An­tho­ny Creed from the Sports Com­pa­ny of T&T, Sher­lan Cabralis of the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies, David John-Williams, pres­i­dent of the TTFA and its gen­er­al sec­re­tary Justin Lat­apy-George, as well as Sel­by Browne, pres­i­dent of the Vet­er­an Foot­ballers Foun­da­tion of T&T where among T&T foot­ball stake­hold­ers present on the fi­nal day.

John-Williams, who was in­stru­men­tal in seek­ing the as­sis­tance of UE­FA through CON­CA­CAF, pledged to give his full sup­port to the Pro League in reach­ing its ob­jec­tives based on the rec­om­men­da­tions of UE­FA AS­SIST. (Guardian)

McIntosh: T&T Pro League has CONCACAF support

One CON­CA­CAF and Caribbean projects se­nior man­ag­er, Howard McIn­tosh, be­lieves the T&T Pro League (TTPL) can be­come sus­tain­able and vi­able through­out, but with the right gov­er­nance struc­ture.

The T&T Pro League, he says, is one of the bet­ter leagues in CON­CA­CAF, be­ing one of on­ly four leagues (Haiti, Do­mini­can Re­pub­lic and Ja­maica, the oth­ers) in the Caribbean that par­tic­i­pates in the new­ly re­struc­tured Caribbean Club Cham­pi­onship for CON­CA­CAF com­pli­ant clubs.

“So CON­CA­CAF is ful­ly sup­port­ive of T&T and the Pro League that ex­ists in T&T be­cause we want that league to do well along with oth­er leagues to en­sure that we (CON­CA­CAF) are do­ing well,” McIn­tosh said fol­low­ing a three-day Unit­ed Eu­ro­pean Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tions (UE­FA) AS­SIST fol­low-up work­shop for the T&T Pro League en­ti­tled: Road to Strate­gic Plan­ning.

The pro­gramme is an ini­tia­tive by UE­FA aimed at pro­vid­ing prac­ti­cal as­sis­tance to oth­er con­fed­er­a­tions and their mem­ber as­so­ci­a­tions in or­der to de­vel­op and strength­en foot­ball across the globe.

The UE­FA AS­SIST work­shop took place at the Fac­ul­ty of So­cial Sci­ences Lounge of the Uni­ver­si­ty of the West In­dies (UWI) cam­pus in St Au­gus­tine, with McIn­tosh shar­ing his ex­per­tise along with Eva Pasquier, head of in­ter­na­tion­al re­la­tions at UE­FA, and her col­leagues Ken­ny MacLeod and Dar­iusz Marzec.

Short-term goals in the ar­eas of gov­er­nance, com­pe­ti­tions and mar­ket­ing, in keep­ing with best prac­tices around the world, were rec­om­mend­ed to the Pro League board. Once the ob­jec­tives are com­plet­ed, UE­FA AS­SIST will re­turn to the T&T Pro League a third time to fo­cus on long-term strate­gic plan­ning.

“T&T Pro League is quite for­tu­nate in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent ways,” McIn­tosh, or as he is fond­ly called “Big Mac”, said.

“CON­CA­CAF in part­ner­ship with UE­FA had to se­lect some coun­tries that they would sup­port, for pro­fes­sion­al league sup­port, and dur­ing the course of this year, three coun­tries – Suri­name, Cana­da and T&T – were se­lect­ed for Pro League sup­port.

“The lev­el of sup­port is from a stand­point of tech­ni­cal sup­port in putting in place a strate­gic plan and en­sur­ing that the lev­el op­er­a­tional and pos­si­ble fi­nan­cial sup­port is giv­en.”

He point­ed out that the T&T Pro League is very for­tu­nate be­cause the sup­port of the T&T gov­ern­ment is un­par­al­leled.

“I think the gov­ern­ment must be ap­plaud­ed. How­ev­er the (T&T) Pro League now needs to start do­ing some­thing by it­self or for it­self, and that means work­ing hard in all the ar­eas to make sure it’s more pro­fes­sion­al.

“It must be one that al­so en­com­pass­es youth de­vel­op­ment and that means hav­ing youth teams and do­ing the things to en­sure that you de­vel­op every­thing. The elite league in the coun­try, if it is prop­er­ly struc­tured, will ob­vi­ous­ly help the na­tion­al team be­cause that is what you re­al­ly want to have, great na­tion­al team play­ers, and so to the ex­tent that you have a suc­cess­ful Pro League then you will have a bet­ter chance of hav­ing a more suc­cess­ful na­tion­al team.”