’What’s taking so long, Jack?’
Members of the Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup squad, currently locked in a court battle with the T&T Football Federation (TTFF) over World Cup bonuses, are asking TTFF special adviser Jack Warner why he and the Federation are dragging their feet over the issue.
Discarded national goalkeeper Kelvin Jack told the Express on Wednesday the footballers involved in the legal dispute are unhappy with the lack of progress in the case.
The players, who hired UK-based solicitor Michael Townley to represent them in the matter, include Avery John, Atiba Charles, Brent Sancho and Collin Samuel.
Densill Theobald, Russell Latapy, Dwight Yorke, Carlos Edwards, Clayton Ince, Jason Scotland and Dennis Lawrence did not take legal action.
’(The other players are) talking about the media not questioning Jack (Warner),’ said the keeper, ’not asking him the relevant questions (like) why he hasn’t fulfilled the contractual obligations, why he hasn’t sorted this out. He continues to act as if it hasn’t happened.’
Jack added: ’We were told by our lawyers that it is a straightforward case. What we cannot understand is the callousness of Jack Warner and the TTFF in dealing with this issue.’
Warner, contacted yesterday by the Express, did not want to comment on the players’ claims. He did, however, distance himself from the court proceedings.
’The matter is currently in court. I have nothing to do with that,’ said Warner.
The newly-installed UNC chairman added: ’You wanted to go to court to settle the matter, but now you’re complaining about how long it takes. You can’t get it both ways.’
Former Gillingham FC goalkeeper Jack revealed that the players feel Warner is deliberately stalling the matter’s progress. They have been through a long arbitration process and are now awaiting a Magistrate’s Court decision on the TTFF’s request to return the dispute to local courts.
This request arose after a report in the Trinidad Guardian outlined details of the arbitration judgement by the London-based Sports Dispute Resolution Panel.
The TTFF claimed the players broke a confidentiality clause of the arbitration ruling, making the ruling null and void. Jack said a decision was due last October, while Warner denied there was any time frame set.
Brent Sancho, a T&T defender at the World Cup, is adamant none of the players still involved in the court matter would have broken the gag order.
’We wrote to the Guardian asking them to come at least and say (the players) have nothing to do with (that story), or distance (themselves) from the Federation,’ Sancho said. ’We’re asking them to come clean and say that, to give the Federation no legs to stand on.’
But they are yet to get a response from the newspaper, he said.
The arbitration panel ruled in 2008 that the players were entitled to 50 per cent of the TTFF’s 2006 World Cup commercial proceeds, after a ’legally binding’ Warner promise to increase compensation from 30 per cent.
Newspaper reports also said the decision included an order for the TTFF to provide the players access to their accounts, due to discrepancies in the sum the TTFF received.
Government figures put the amount the TTFF got from the private and public sectors at $173,690,113.50.
’At the end of the day,’ Sancho said, ’we’re already won the case. What is sad is that this thing has gone to a ’he say, she say’. We expected to have a favourable decision months ago. We’re quite curious to know why it’s taking so long.’
Before the legal action, the players were offered $141,102, roughly $5,644 a player, which they refused.
’We felt that was insulting,’ Jack said.
The offer was since increased to $186,000 per player, some of whom have accepted.
Jack claimed none of the players who started the legal action, though, have done so. They are, he said, frustrated that the case is still pending.
’It’s shocking. Nowhere else in the world this could happen,’ said Jack.
’We have already won the case, it’s just a matter of obeying the (arbitration) decision. (They’re) trying to stall and stretch this out as much as possible,’ Sancho added.
’We just want Jack Warner to answer to T&T why it is he lost arbitration. Why is it up to now he has yet to sort out the bonus issue,’ Jack said.
According to Sancho, the players just want what they have earned.
’They (are) fed up. It’s going on four years and they just want this chapter dead and buried.’