The David John-Williams-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has been accused of trying to mislead the High Court after allegedly submitting inaccurate information in a sworn affidavit.
In a court matter which involves former FIFA referee and ex-head of the local refereeing department, Ramesh Ramdhan, the TTFA—through their attorneys Anand R Misir and Dayadai Harripaul—claimed that they paid a yearly lease upwards of TT$900,000 for the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
The TTFA, whom were ordered by the High Court to pay TT$540,000 in outstanding fees to Ramdhan, made a request on 28 April 2017 to pay the former referee in monthly instalments, due to expenses which they incurred at that time. And in their statement which revealed their yearly income and expenses, the TTFA divulged the following:
“The application applies to the court for an order to pay the amount due by an initial sum of $30,000.00 and installments of $22,500.00 per month and provides the following information… [The] Trinidad and Tobago Football Association pays a lease of $944,021 per year for the use of the premises at the Hasely [sic] Crawford Stadium.”
Ramdhan, who said he was only paid for four months while he worked under the local football body from 2012-2015, said that the TTFA’s revelation immediately raised his eyebrows because he was not aware of any rental costs for the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
“[The TTFA] ended up conceding that they owed me this money,” Ramdhan told Wired868. “But in the document that they sent to the High Court, they claimed they are paying—in the income and expenses statement—$940,000 in accommodation at the Hasely Crawford Stadium. We wanted audited statements for 2016 and they did not provide that so the lawyers agreed for [them to provide] a balance sheet and a financial statement of some sort.
“And that is the basis of my objection to their offer. We have a court hearing on the 26th of July to ventilate that… [TTFA president David John-Williams] has lied to the High Court of Trinidad and Tobago because that is a sworn affidavit. And that will be a different story.”
Ramdhan unsuccessfully contested the TTFA’s 2015 election and tendered his resignation shortly after John-Williams ascended to the helm. Ramdhan claimed he still had six months left on his contract and lamented that the TTFA president shut down every attempt he made to discuss the debts owed to him. And the man who became the first Caribbean referee to officiate at the World Cup, felt he was left with no other option than to take the local football body to court.
Ramdhan is not the only person who is currently questioning the TTFA’s financial statements, as Veterans Football Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) president Selby Browne unsuccessfully tried to source certain pertinent documents from the administration recently.
“Every member of the TTFA has a responsibility to review the books at anytime,” Browne told Wired868.
On 26 July, the TTFA will try to prove to the High Court and Ramdhan that their $900,000-plus yearly lease to use the Hasely Crawford Stadium is in fact legitimate. Ramdhan has included a clause in his affidavit seeking the money owed to him with damages if the TTFA’s statement about rental costs at the Hasely Crawford Stadium turns out to be false.
The consequences for the TTFA and John-Williams will be much more dire if the High Court finds contents of their 28 April affidavit to be erroneous.
Wired868 was informed that the judge in the matter has now recused himself from the case although it is unclear why he took such action.
Also in their affidavit on 28 April, the TTFA listed their annual income as TT$9,914,762 while their total expenses exceeded 64 million TT dollars.
Wired868 asked both John-Williams and TTFA General Secretary Justin Latapy-George if the TTFA paid any yearly lease for the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Latapy-George, who was appointed in November last year, said he could not confirm if there was a contractual arrangement in place between the TTFA and the government regarding the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Meanwhile, John-Williams urged Wired868 to take up its questions with the Sport Company of Trinidad and Tobago (SporTT) and did not provide an answer himself.
One SporTT official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, stated that the TTFA was paying no lease for the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium and suggested that the local football body should be able to produce an invoice if they were in fact being charged to meet the requirements of a yearly lease.
“The Sport Company [of Trinidad and Tobago] gives housing to various sporting bodies and the arrangement is the same,” the official said.
Meanwhile, John-Williams’ predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee, said the TTFA vacated their previous office at Anna St, Woodbrook due to “unmanageable rental costs” of approximately $40,000 per month.
Why then would the TTFA pay SporTT close to TT$80,000 to rent a similar office at the Hasely Crawford Stadium?
Tim Kee asserted that, according to the football body’s arrangement with SporTT, the TTFA was only responsible for paying their internet bill at the venue.
Browne, who also made an unsuccessful bid to become TTFA president in 2015, following up on the revelations of the Ramdhan court matter by requesting access of financial data from the football body.
On 22 June, Browne asked the TTFA to provide:
1. Minutes of TTFA Board of Directors at which the decision was taken to call and [sic] EGM on 5 July at 5.30pm.
2. Minutes of all Meetings of the TTFA Board of Directors held after the last TTFA AGM.
3. The TTFA Financial Records for the period January 2016 to date.
4. The TTFA Income Sources, sponsorship, grants, donations, loans and general revenue proceeds for the period January 2016 to date.
5. The TTFA list of debtors with outstanding amounts at 15 June 2017.
6. The TTFA List of employees, consultants, contractors and attorneys for the period January 2016 to date and their remuneration packages.
7. The TTFA correspondence files with FIFA, CONCACAF and CFU for the period January 2016 to date.
Browne gave the TTFA a deadline of 28 June. However, the VFFOTT president claimed that he has received no response to his requests from the incumbent administration.
Latapy-George told Wired868 that he did receive Browne’s email and noted the requests. However, the TTFA’s General Secretary stated “that matter is currently before the general membership so it would be misplaced of me to comment at this time.”
Browne has not been dissuaded though, and the VFFOTT president advised the TTFA that his body will be present at the upcoming EGM.
“VFFOTT shall be represented at the EGM on 5 July at 5.30pm to seek answers, evidence and specific documentation for questions with respect to the conduct of the administration of the TTFA, to include fiduciary affairs,” stated Browne. “I got in my mailbox the outstanding arrears prior to the new executive. Clearly, a lot of money has either been paid, or a lot of the persons have been satisfied.
“So [the VFFOTT] will want to know: Is there anything outstanding? Are fellahs owed? I know several coaches who are out of pocket…”
Browne, who suggested that the local football body was going down “an all-too-familiar path”, questioned whether or not John-Williams used TTFA money to help his unsuccessful Caribbean Football Union (CFU) presidential campaign last year.
“I was there when [former FIFA President Sepp] Blatter was being paraded, just like Infantino is now being paraded through the Caribbean,” said Browne. “Up to today [Infantino] hasn’t addressed my issue of the TV rights, so as far as I’m concerned nothing has changed at FIFA.
“Nearly all the football associations in the Caribbean have their cap in hand behind a great, white Lord who can give them a couple pennies. And they couldn’t care less if it was stolen.
“Clearly, it’s an undermining and an attempt to destroy the Caribbean Football Union by hanging a couple dollars in front of the gullible ones […] for those who have eyes to see and ears to hear, we wish them well.”
With four CONCACAF World Cup qualifying games to go, the Soca Warriors are positioned at the bottom of ‘Hex’ with just three points. But Browne feels the next two fixtures against Panama and Honduras may decide the administration’s fate as well.
“At the end of the first week of September, a decision must be made about the administration of football in Trinidad and Tobago; it’s very simple in mind,” said Browne. “It is about putting Trinidad and Tobago football on the right footing, something that should have been done [before].
“We should not have had the debacle that was Jack Warner; and clearly it looks like we are heading that way again with this sort of modus operandi.”