Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams abruptly called off a Board meeting today, with less than an hour’s notice to members, after a High Court injunction blocked him from fulfilling his threat of jettisoning perceived rival, Keith Look Loy.
On Glorious Saturday, John-Williams, through his fresh-faced general secretary Camara David, made the potential removal of Look Loy his first order of business after the review of minutes on the Board’s agenda today.
However Justice Robin Mohammed today upheld a legal request by Look Loy—through his legal team of Matthew Gayle, Dr Emir Crowne and Crystal Paul—which blocked the controversial football president from ‘seeking to impugn the Applicant’s status as a director of the [TTFA]’ pending judicial review.
And, in a significant double move, Look Loy also formally initiated the process to compel John-Williams and David to provide all bank details, paid cheque stubs and other information necessary for him to conduct his job as a TTFA Board member.
John-Williams, through David, ‘adjourned’ today’s Board meeting to an unspecified date in the future, within minutes of the verdict. His decision meant the TTFA body could not formally discuss other pressing agenda issues including the appointment of a coaching staff for the Men’s National Under-23 and Women’s National Under-20 and Under-17 Teams.
The National Under-23s are competing for a spot at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and play their opening match on 17 July. However, the TTFA is yet to appoint a coaching staff and there is no squad in training at present.
The Women Under-20 Team are drawn against Haiti, Panama and the Cayman Islands in the Concacaf qualifying series, which serves as the first step towards the India 2020 Women’s Under-20 World Cup. However, despite their competition also starting in three months, the under-20s are without a coaching staff too.
Look Loy, who is also the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president, suggested that the TTFA was not in a position to continue carrying out its function as the local guardians of the game anyway, since a freeze on its bank accounts by the National Futsal Team—due to an unpaid debt—has left the body as bankrupt financially as it is morally.
TTFA office staff, according to an anonymous source, still have not received salaries for March and are uncertain about pay at the end of April too. Look Loy confirmed that he heard the same thing.
“The staff in the TTFA office is demoralised,” said Look Loy. “The leader of the sinking ship has still not even spoken to them about what is going on and when they are going to be paid. All of this is also affecting football on the field in terms of the new T-League (a merger between the Pro League and TTSL).
“It is past the point of implosion; nothing is happening in TTFA.”
Arguably, John-Williams’ decision to cancel today’s Board meeting, with local football at a virtual standstill at domestic level, suggests that his own political survival is now more important than the administering of the TTFA.
The attempt to replace Look Loy, based upon a three-month old query about the latter’s appointment by North East Stars director Michael Awai and a recent legal opinion by attorney Elton Prescott SC, seemed shaky from the start.
Awai’s complaint was already addressed internally—albeit informally—and dismissed by Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president Osmond Downer, one of the framers of the current TTFA constitution.
Downer reiterated his earlier position with a series of accompanying documents this morning, via email. The former FIFA referee insisted that there was a quorum for Look Loy’s appointment, despite Awai’s claim, but further noted that a quorum was unnecessary since he was elected to his Board role by the TTSL and not the General Meeting.
And Downer said it would be illegal for John-Williams to attempt to remove Look Loy at a Board meeting anyway since his appointment could only be revoked by the TTFA’s general membership.
Neither John-Williams nor David appeared to respond to Downer’s email. David, who was controversially appointed in February, also ignored requests from at least four Board members to shift the start of Board meetings from 3pm to 5pm, so as to make it easier for working members to attend.
Prescott told Wired868 on the weekend that his legal opinion on Look Loy’s appointment only considered information provided by David and he was not provided with relevant articles of the constitution.
Look Loy suggested that David, a former TTSL employee who controversially began acting as TTFA general secretary while his predecessor Justin Latapy-George was still on the job, is blinded by ambition and ego.
“I have noticed that Camara has taken to signing off his emails with ‘general secretary/CEO’ but the TTFA doesn’t have a CEO,” said Look Loy. “That gives you an insight into his overambitious mentality; a young fellah who now come in football but is consumed by his own ambition and position; and […] is going ahead blindly.”
Just seven months away from the completion of his term as football president, the John-Williams-led administration has failed to properly activate its standing committees with only one operational—the referees committee—from a minimum of 16 standing committees meant to effect the smooth running of the local football body.
Look Loy thinks it instructive that, rather than address the defunct finance, legal or technical committees, John-Williams tabled a move to activate the emergency committee instead.
The emergency committee, which is meant to comprise of the president, vice president and four other Board members, is meant to handle important business that may arise in between Board meetings. At present, John-Williams has the support of at least seven from 13 Board members.
The current TTFA Board members are: John-Williams (president), Ewing Davis (vice-president), Raeshawn Mars (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon Warrick (Women’s League Football), Julia Baptiste (TT Pro League), Collin Partap (Central Football Association), Bandele Kamau (Eastern FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Selby Browne (Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago) and Look Loy (TTSL).
The constitution states that decisions by the emergency committee ‘shall have immediate legal effect’ while the Board would be notified of such decisions for ratification at its next meeting. In theory, issues like the re-appointment of National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence or the TTFA’s response to the garnishing of its bank accounts could have been handled by the emergency committee.
“They could bypass the Board [through the emergency committee] and run TTFA football that way, which is what they have been de facto,” said Look Loy. “But this will allow them to operate without the Board while having constitutional authority at the same time.
“They have the votes to put whoever they want on the emergency committee.”
Although John-Williams retains his political strength, Look Loy believes he is no longer fit to effectively run local football and claimed the TTFA cannot recover with the current president at the helm.
“The David John-Williams administration is like a punch drunk boxer on the ropes—semi-conscious at best, but would not concede,” said Look Loy. “They seem determined not to go down and to hold out, because they have some political support. But as far as the public and football fans go, people just want to see their backs.”