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Shabazz: Pro League football is a must.

Pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball is here to stay, play­ers and coach­es must re­main paid pro­fes­sion­als and the T&T Pro League is to­tal­ly com­mit­ted to this re­al­i­ty.

This is the view of Mor­vant Cale­do­nia AIA own­er Ja­maal Shabazz yes­ter­day in a di­rect re­sponse to com­ments made by Su­per League chair­man Kei­th Look­loy in a di­rect fall­out since the Pro League’s de­ci­sion to go ahead with its league in­stead of en­sur­ing the T-League was launched this sea­son.

“The own­ers have demon­strat­ed a com­mit­ment to the na­tion’s youth and peo­ple like Jer­ry Hospedales, Dar­ryl Ma­habir (for­mer North East Stars own­er) and the de­ceased Richard Fakoory stand out for such a con­tri­bu­tion,” Shabazz said in a re­lease in de­fence of the Pro League’s de­ci­sion to run their own league un­til the UE­FA/FI­FA-pro­posed T-League gets off the ground.

“Mr Look ­Loy did not con­sult the T&T Pro league when he de­cid­ed to ask for the As­cen­sion League to be ex­tend­ed by an­oth­er round. He has not told the pub­lic that the Su­per League in­tend­ed to run a one-round league if the ex­ten­sion of the As­cen­sion League was not grant­ed. So why must the Pro League con­sult Look Loy when it comes to run­ning our com­pe­ti­tion?”

Shabazz ac­cused Look Loy of try­ing to paint the Pro League in a neg­a­tive light, in­sist­ing the league had not left the com­mis­sion which set up to steer foot­ball for­ward to the T-League.

“The league re­mains a mem­ber of the com­mis­sion but just like the Su­per League feels that foot­ball needs to play, we in the Pro League are go­ing to walk that talk and play our League,” Shabazz said.

“We have in­ject­ed over 25 mil­lion dol­lars in­to the na­tion­al econ­o­my and pro­vid­ed em­ploy­ment for over 200 play­ers and coach­es. We see it as our right to con­tin­ue to cre­ate an en­vi­ron­ment where coach­es and play­ers can re­main full-time pro­fes­sion­als.”

Speak­ing on the role of the Pro League in T&T foot­ball, Shabazz cleared the air. “We are not the TTFA, our role is to fo­cus on pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball. It is through the Pro League we con­tribute to the na­tion­al foot­ball de­vel­op­ment.

“In years gone by we fed the na­tion­al teams with play­ers and coach­es. Mr Look Loy does not be­lieve in a Pro League and he has used so­cial me­dia to spew his ven­om against us. So we are very well aware of the per­son we’re deal­ing with here. He wants to curse us on so­cial me­dia in the night and pre­tend to be all lovey-dovey in the day.” Shabazz in­sist­ed that the Su­per League chair­man got his wires crossed.

“Pro League clubs have a re­spon­si­bil­i­ty to its play­ers, spon­sors and sup­port­ers who have re­mained loy­al to the con­cept of pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball. Mr Look Loy’s views on foot­ball are not di­vine rev­e­la­tion. His opin­ion is a nose. And the Pro League has its own nos­trils and we are en­ti­tled to breathe,” he said. “Mr Look­ Loy is get­ting his wires crossed, the es­tab­lish­ment of pro­fes­sion­al foot­ball and who wins the TTFA pres­i­den­cy are two sep­a­rate is­sues.

“We in the T&T Pro league have al­ways sought to keep the is­sues sep­a­rate. The same can­not be said for Mr Look Loy.”

Ac­cord­ing to Shabazz, the de­ci­sion made by the Pro League was done with each of the ten clubs giv­ing their views.

“This was no uni­lat­er­al de­ci­sion, all ten clubs agreed. And one of our mem­bers, Ed­die Dean (Club San­do), is on the Su­per League board and they, Club San­do, agreed as well. Pro League clubs have no ul­te­ri­or mo­tive, our de­ci­sion is based pure­ly on pro­tect­ing our in­vest­ment.”