Some club owners of the Trinidad and Tobago 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 a never-ending struggle 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,” cautioned 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, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad which concluded Thursday.
A possible outcome, if the TTPL Board (which is made up of club owners) decides 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 Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) representative, a Ministry of Sport representative and two independent representatives.
“It’s really the backbone of the functioning of the organization 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 organization 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 organization.”
Pasquier added that good governance and organized organizations is 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 is much less 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 three-day 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 there in 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 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 Trinidad and Tobago, 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.com ASSIST.