Mon, Jul

TTFA, the next Petrotrin.

Since tak­ing of­fice on No­vem­ber 29, 2015, the T&T Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (TTFA) led by David John-Williams has been the sub­ject of nu­mer­ous me­dia at­tacks from both the tra­di­tion­al and so­cial me­dia sur­round­ing its op­er­a­tions and the lead­er­ship style of its pres­i­dent.

Over the past few months, Guardian Me­dia Sports has reached out to sev­er­al mem­bers of the board in an ef­fort to as­cer­tain if the claims from the board’s most vo­cal mem­ber - Su­per League pres­i­dent Kei­th Look Loy - are jus­ti­fied.

A source close to the TTFA’s op­er­a­tions said for any­one to give the im­pres­sion the board is a one-man show would be dis­hon­est and out­right mak­ing mis­chief to desta­bilise the ad­min­is­tra­tion and the sport.

"We are not per­fect but our records and board min­utes will show that Joanne Salazar was the chair­per­son of the Fi­nance Com­mit­tee be­fore she re­signed last month while vice pres­i­dent Mr Davis (Ew­ing) is the chair­man of the Ten­ders Com­mit­tee, which in­cludes Wayne Cun­ning­ham and Joseph Tay­lor is chair of the Ref­er­ees Com­mit­tee and Richard Quan Chan is chair­man of the Tech­ni­cal Com­mit­tee.

"I will agree that the board should push for a wider cross-sec­tion of per­sons to be co-opt­ed in­to the com­mit­tees so that we can de­liv­er more and be­come more ef­fi­cient," the source said.

Af­ter Guardian Me­dia Sports was turned down sev­er­al times by var­i­ous board mem­bers for in­ter­views, a di­rec­tor agreed to speak to us about the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the sport strict­ly on the con­di­tion of anonymi­ty.

The source re­vealed that there are one or two board mem­bers who want to lead but refuse to abide by the rule of col­lec­tive re­spon­si­bil­i­ty when they don't get their way and that can­not be good for the sport.

"It's ei­ther you are a board mem­ber or you are not. Not every­one will agree with you and your opin­ion," said the source, who point­ed out that there has been a lot of noise in the me­dia about the TTFA’s ac­counts and fi­nan­cial af­fairs but the fact is that every­one on the board has all the ac­counts and every­one knows the true fi­nan­cial sta­tus of the body.

Guardian Me­dia Sports was shown au­dit­ed fi­nan­cial ac­counts for 2014 through 2017 done by Madame Ram­nar­ine & Com­pa­ny Lim­it­ed.

The source said, "When we came in­to of­fice in 2015 there were no au­dit­ed ac­counts for 2008 to 2015 and we fixed that.”

In fact, the source added, "The AGM of 2015 was con­duct­ed with­out fi­nan­cial state­ments and FI­FA fund­ing was sus­pend­ed for a long time as a re­sult of no fi­nan­cial ac­counts. It is this ad­min­is­tra­tion that re­stored FI­FA fund­ing. The FA (foot­ball as­so­ci­a­tion) al­so has an up to date fi­nan­cial man­age­ment state­ment of ac­counts up to Au­gust 31, 2018."

Armed with a brief­case, the source said, "Every mem­ber of the board knows that when we were elect­ed we in­her­it­ed a debt of well over $23 mil­lion dol­lars ($23,507,263.10 to be ex­act) and we dis­cussed it at every meet­ing when we meet and much of the in­come the FA has raised to date has been used to ser­vice that debt."

The source ex­plained that back in June, for­mer pres­i­dent Ray­mond Tim Kee, in an ar­ti­cle in the T&T Guardian, called for an­swers on why the TTFA was still in the "red" when it re­ceived twice as many monies from FI­FA than when he was in pow­er. The source point­ed out that Tim Kee had said in the ar­ti­cle, "The TTFA used to re­ceive US$58,000 every quar­ter for de­vel­op­ment and I have heard that the new pres­i­dent now re­ceives much more than that, so where is the mon­ey go­ing?"

The source said, "Mr Tim Kee knows that when FI­FA gives mon­ey it's for spe­cif­ic pur­pos­es and it can­not be used for any debt serv­ing. The cur­rent debt ser­vic­ing comes from oth­er rev­enues raised and sourced by the FA."

Ac­cord­ing to a doc­u­ment ti­tled “Mem­ber­ship Pre­sen­ta­tion 2018,” which was pre­sent­ed to mem­bers in April, a sum of $7,673,680.54 was paid to sev­er­al debtors which in­clude coach­es, a for­mer ref­er­ee, play­ers World Cup match fees and ser­vice providers.

The source said the debt to for­mer women's coach Even Pellerud of $1.3 mil­lion or (US$210,146,00) was the most cru­cial for T&T be­cause the FI­FA's Dis­ci­pli­nary Com­mit­tee had giv­en T&T 120 days from March 2015 to pay Pellerud or face sanc­tions which in­clud­ed be­ing dis­qual­i­fied from par­tic­i­pat­ing in the World Cup qual­i­fiers.

To date, the FA has al­so cleared part of the $3.6 mil­lion owed to cur­rent tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor An­ton Corneal and part of the $7 mil­lion owed to coach Rus­sell Lat­apy, while for­mer World Cup ref­er­ee Ramesh Ramd­han was paid $572.280.00 in full, while the Ban­quet and Con­fer­ence Cen­tre, Graph­ics Ad­ver­tis­ing and two out of six ho­tels were al­so paid.

The doc­u­ments ob­tained by Guardian Me­dia Lim­it­ed show that the TTFA still owes $15,121,815.34, which in­cludes over a mil­lion dol­lars to PTSC, the staff of the se­nior and ju­nior teams and play­ers.

The source said, "The FA owed al­most all the ho­tel and trav­el agency busi­ness­es in T&T and they all sued us for their monies. Some we've paid in part, some we have paid in full and oth­ers we have asked for time and there are still mat­ters be­fore the courts. This is one of the main rea­sons why foot­ball is in this state to­day.

“As mon­ey comes in most of it goes out to pay the debts that we in­her­it­ed and a cou­ple of the debts were in­curred by keep­ing our na­tion­al team op­er­a­tions ac­tive. We know that as a board we must ho­n­our all the debts as the FA.”

The source added, “This is not about John-Williams and Kei­th Look Loy, this is about T&T foot­ball. A large sum of the monies the FA has got­ten from Con­ca­caf has gone to pay loans, which means our na­tion­al teams and de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes have tak­en a hit."

From the doc­u­ments re­viewed, the $15 mil­lion debt does not in­clude a claim by for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary Shel­don Phillips, who in April filed a trade dis­pute in the In­dus­tri­al Court for wrong­ful dis­missal and is seek­ing dam­ages of US$1.4 mil­lion or TT$10 mil­lion.

The source said, "I don't want to say much about this mat­ter. How­ev­er, Mr Phillips was hired by the for­mer FA un­der pres­i­dent Tim Kee on May 9, 2013, to a four-year con­tract which was ter­mi­nat­ed in Oc­to­ber 2015. I want to in­vite all of T&T to be present in court for this mat­ter be­cause we want every­one to know what the FA is be­ing sued for here. I hope the me­dia will be present al­so to re­port on this mat­ter.”

The FA al­so set­tled all fines from FI­FA to­talling 12,500 Swiss francs or TT$90,000.

The source said the fig­ures pro­vid­ed to the T&T Guardian did not in­clude a le­gal claim by a for­mer ad­min­is­tra­tor of the FA for $15 mil­lion and an­oth­er $2.4 mil­lion by nine in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies, which in­cludes a for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary and a com­pa­ny owned by the son of a for­mer pres­i­dent.

In Feb­ru­ary, John-Williams, the TTFA pres­i­dent wrote FI­FA seek­ing as­sis­tance in an ef­fort to avoid the or­gan­i­sa­tion from shut­ting down in his let­ter to Veron Mosen­go-Om­ba he wrote: "The pay­ments made above to­tal TT $8,632,129.82 or (USD 1,290,000.00) and rep­re­sents funds which the FA has earned and should have been utilised in our foot­ball pro­grammes. At the mo­ment all our pro­grammes are grind­ing to a halt as a re­sult. We fore­see with­in one month the need to sig­nif­i­cant­ly re­duce staff in or­der to just sur­vive.

"Our FI­FA for­ward mon­ey for spe­cial projects for 2016-2018 (USD2, 250,000.00) has been com­mit­ted to our Home of Foot­ball Project which we hope to com­plete by Sep­tem­ber 2018. We en­vis­age this project as a ma­jor in­come gen­er­a­tor for the as­so­ci­a­tion there­after. Our 2018 FI­FA For­ward op­er­a­tions mon­ey is ful­ly bud­get­ed for - the ma­jor cost be­ing wages and salaries.

"In the cir­cum­stances, in or­der to sur­vive in the im­me­di­ate, we are seek­ing some fund­ing or ad­vances from FI­FA to as­sist our cash flow needs. I am avail­able at any time to dis­cuss this ur­gent mat­ter at hand."