Dexter Skeene has resigned as chief executive officer (CEO) of the embattled T&T Professional Football League yesterday during a meeting of the Board of Directors at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
Speaking to Guardian Media Sports following the meeting Skeene said, “After careful consideration, discussions with my family and prayer, I decided it was time to move on. Come April 1, I would have given the Pro League and by extension T&T football 14 solid years of dedicated service.”
Skeene, 53, who has played at club level for Malta Carib Alcons, Maple and the national team, has been managing the operations of the Pro League since 2004 said, “While my announcement to the Board is with immediate effect, the Board has asked me to stay on until March 31 for which I’ve agreed.”
He said, “I want to thank God for the opportunity that allowed me and my team to provide the young footballers with an opportunity to earn a living from professional football and proving a pathway for the youths in the under 13, 15 and 17 to play and develop their skills in making the transition to the senior level. I’m happy and satisfied that I have played my part and I think now is the right time to pass on the mantle.”
A graduate of Columbia University in the USA, Skeene said, “The most gratifying thing for me was when T&T qualified for 2006 World Cup in Germany and our national team qualified for the Hex three out of four times in the last 14 years. In addition, our Pro League clubs won the Caribbean Football Union (CFU) club championship on several occasions.”
Over the last two seasons, the Pro League has been experiencing financial challenges due to T&T’s economic downturn in which Skeene has not been paid for several months.
Nevertheless, he said, “I’m adamant that there must be Pro League football in T&T if we are to qualify for another World Cup on a regular basis. There’s an urgent need for a partnership between the government, the Ministry of Sports and the Sport Company going forward. The upgrading of playing fields in the communities represented by the clubs is vital the growth of the League.”
Skeene, who made his national team debut in 1988 said, “The fans are the life-blood of pro football and without it, it is impossible to derive the revenue for sustainability such as gate receipts, sponsorship, merchanderising and television rights.”
The Board of Directors comprises a representative from each of the 10 teams in the league - Defence Force, Police, St Ann’s Rangers, North East Stars, Central FC, W Connection, Point Fortin Civic Centre, Morvant Caledonia United, San Juan Jabloteh and Club Sando.
In May 2017, Michael Larry Romany, 59, stepped down as chairman of the League after 14 years in the position. Sam Phillip, the deputy chairman took over and has been in the position on an interim arrangement since.