“Football in T&T has reached a critical crossroad”
That’s the opinion of acting Pro League chairman, Brent Sancho.
“We have important decisions to make and I wonder if we have the right people in place to make the hard decisions required to move the sport forward”
Sancho was appointed as acting chairman following the death of Richard Fakoory in May.
“The chairman’s role is a case in point” said Sancho. “Both Richard and myself were asked to step up temporarily, and we were both honoured to accept the role. However, we both recognised that the appointment could only be temporary: you simply can’t have a club owner chairing the league”
Sancho explained that the need for independence is a tough requirement when you’re discussing issues that affect your own club.
“It’s an impossible situation. For example: Central FC are still owed prize money from 2016 and 2017 and yet, I can’t express my opinion concerning clubs that owe money to the league from last season. It’s frustrating.”
Sancho said while he has a casting vote, it’s the club owners who make the board decisions which he is mandated to support. “We are in urgent need of a truly independent chairperson to guide the board,” said Sancho. “But we haven’t yet sat down as a board to discuss the criteria for the position, including roles and responsibilities and KPI’s. Then there is also the issue of salary, as the position is currently unpaid.”
Sancho said he believes the entire structure of Pro League management needs to be reviewed.
“We need the right people in the right jobs. Currently, CEO Mrs (Julia) Baptiste is covering all bases, and this can’t be right. While she is working tirelessly to keep the ship afloat, she needs support.”
He said while there have been leaks of board members’ criticisms of Baptiste, this is perfectly normal in a business.
“I am certain that every CEO is criticised by their board from time to time. As John Lydgate famously said, ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’. However, I am concerned of allegations of misogyny.
“Mrs Baptiste has been supported by the Pro League board for 17 years. I am sure that there aren’t many male dominated sports organisations that have supported a senior female executive for such a period.
“So the accusations of sexism by the Pro League board is mischief making by persons with their own negative agendas. Added to which, I am personally disgusted by this continuing practice of leaking confidential emails to the media. No good can come of this. Directors of any company should be able to voice their concerns to each other without worrying about their thoughts being taken out of context.
“We are almost reaching an Orwellian state where people are castigated for Thought Crimes”.
Sancho added that these media issues are keeping talented administrators away from football.
“Over the last two years, football has made more headlines through politics than through the sport itself. It shouldn’t be that way.
“Yes, administrators should be answerable, but far too much is being aired in public that doesn’t need to be. And much of this is fuelled purely by politics, and even hatred.
“Another famous quote of John Lydgate says that empty vessels make the most noise. We are listening to the people who shout loudest rather than those who whisper wisely.
“This approach doesn’t work for coaches on the touchline and it doesn’t work in the board room.
This mentality must change and I am hoping that the Pro League will soon identify such a person to step into the chair and carry our football forward.”