By Paul Nicholson
April 30 – Government bigwigs and sports administration supremos from the Caribbean will be at the heart of the Concacaf Working Group that has been charged with coming up with a format and structure for a Caribbean Pro League.
Chaired by Mexican FA president Yon de Luisa, with Caribbean Football Union vice president Randy Harris as deputy chairman, the Working Group has now been added to with former player and former Trinidad and Tobago sports minister Brent Sancho, and the head of Jamaica’s National Olympic Committee Christopher Samuda.
Operating as a subgroup of Concacaf’s Competitions Committee, the Working Group will also have lawyer and club owner Manuel Estrella from the Dominican Republic, Patrick Massenat from Haiti, Valdemar Florentino Marcha of Curaçao, as well as a FIFA representative.
“Where this group is different from attempts to map out a professional Caribbean League in the past is that at its centre it has people who have lived and breathed Caribbean sport and have experience of running clubs and leagues in the region,” said Concacaf president Victor Montagliani.
The Working Group, which is being funded by Concacaf and FIFA and which will have the resources of Concacaf’s competitions department to draw on, is expected to begin its work in the next couple of weeks with an initial planning session on workflow.
Montagliani emphasises that there is “no preconceived model on how this should work, it’s a blank slate. They just need to go at it and do the work”.
That will include looking at other models for professional leagues – Canada and India, for example – as well as resources within the Caribbean, including the pool of playing talent within the Caribbean that could be professional. Sustainability will also be a key issue and while the league will potentially be supported by Concacaf and FIFA funds, the objective is for it to make and then live off its own business case.
“It is one thing to help and another to underwrite for 20 years. That isn’t really feasible,” said Montagliani. “This is a bottom up rather than top down approach to create something that supports and grows itself over time. To get to that point we need to understand the failures of domestic leagues as well their successes. At this stage there is no pledge of finance but that is not to say it won’t be considered. But how much, for how long to get it established and can it then be taken to external agencies…there is a political will to get this in place but what we have learned is that it needs to be properly thought and planned otherwise it won’t be sustainable.”
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