No love, no money
Anton Corneal, our technical director of football in Trinidad and Tobago, has not been paid for six months.
Anton is now selling lettuce in the market to survive," stated Tony Harford, the chairman of the financial arm of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Federation (TTFF).
"The truth is the Ministry of Sport has not given us a cent since March 30 when they paid for 50 per cent of the expenses to cover the Under-23 and Under-17 footballers.
"It might just be a coincidence, but we have not received a cent from the Ministry of Sport since Jack Warner called for the TTTF to be starved of funding," Harford said. "The current situation between the TTFF and the Government is very bad, and we don't know why. But it is hurting football.
The National senior footballers are looking to enter Caribbean qualifying seeking a spot in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and we have no funding yet."
Almost a year ago, Sports Minister Anil Roberts reached an agreement with the almost bankrupt TTFF which would have allowed for several national football teams to be funded and coaches to be paid.
However, that arrangement seems to have broken down since Trinidad and Tobago's elimination from World Cup qualifying by Guyana.
Roberts approved an arrangement in which Harford was appointed chairman of an authorisation committee, containing bankers and accountants. Karyl Keller represented the Ministry of Sport.
As part of the arrangement, all funding was to go through the authorisation committee and none directly to the TTFF. But two months ago, Roberts stated that the TTFF would have to account for funds already used during the failed World Cup campaign before they got any further cash.
Roberts said Harford had to account specifically to permanent secretary Ashwin Creed.
"Mister Harford, as far as I know, has been in discussions with the permanent secretary," Roberts said in July.
"Mr Harford has a lot of questions to answer to the permanent secretary, so I would suggest he stay rather quiet and deal with the permanent secretary's questions.: The Minister added: …"The permanent secretary is the accounting officer and is in charge and responsible for the taxpayers' dollars, so I suggest to him that he be a little less loquacious and answer the letters to the permanent secretary so if you see him, tell him that for me."
Several efforts were made to contact Roberts, including yesterday, for a fresh perspective on the issue. All were futile. However Harford insists that the TTFF's financial arm had provided all documentation required, but was still facing hostility for the Sport Ministry.
Harford said that while no one could force Government to fund football, he said it was in the interest of the development of local sporting talent that they help. Harford also felt that promises made should be honoured.
"The accounts were delivered by hand," Harford insisted. "We first gave them interim accounts which accounted for how $5.6 million of an $11 million sum was spent last year.
The final account I supplied to them on January 12 (2012). We have given them the full accounts, we have given them cash flow statements, I just don't know what to do again."
Harford said that he had made every effort to "fix" whatever problems there were with the Ministry of Sport.
Meanwhile Corneal, Angus Eve and Norwegian Even Pellerud are among several national coaches who have not been paid this year. Money is also owed to persons who transport the teams and teachers hired to travel with the National Under-17 girl team during recent World Cup qualifying.
Harford further declared that his management company All Sport Promotion had used some $600,000 of its fund to keep national football afloat, while they waited funding. He said his company could not longer continue this way.
"The Ministry promised in January to help us to the tune of $7.5 million to fund the programmes of the Under-17 and the Under-23s. We got $3.5 million and that was it. Most of the recent activities of our teams have been paid by us at All Sports Promotions.
NLCB sponsored the trip by the Under-23 men against Canada, while TSTT assisted the Under-20 women. A parent paid for the recent game by the Under-20 girls to Canada. We have to give the person back their money.
Apart from that, most other expenses this year have been paid by us at All Sports Promotions. My directors have told me I cannot pay a cent more since we are already $600,000 in the red," Harford declared.