President William Wallace, in his first 100 days in office, has been making a positive impact since taking over the cash-strapped Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) last November and, is determined to take Trinidad and Tobago football up to where is should be oneday.
Today, at the Queens Park Oval in-front of the media and staff members. Wallace spoke to the general public through its own media director Shaun Fuentes and gave a full breakdown of the problems that is hurting the association and how poorly things have been running in the past.
However, all was not bad news as there was some good stuff the president revealed concerning T&T football despite, facing a $50million debt. He said that they've acquired a few more sponsorship deals that will be disclosed in due course. The president said that some of the sponsorship money will be geared towards bringing back the FA-Cup and the restructuring of the Super and Pro Leagues respectively.
Wallace, who seemed to be in good spirits outlined that there were a lot of rackets surrounding the TTFA including an illegal National Insurance System (NIS) loan which was taken out anonymously. Wallace also touched on the poorly constructed Home of Football hotel project that is yet to be in operation because of bad project management.
Click Here to listen his full press conference.
$4 million for taxman missing, an unsafe hotel and spiralling debts: Wallace reveals TTFA’s ‘true’ health.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).
Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace has accused the administration of his predecessor, David John-Williams, of failing to account for millions of dollars received from Fifa and improperly deducted from office staff.
Wallace’s claims were part of a 50-minute long press conference at the Queen’s Park Oval in St Clair, in which he revealed issues inherited from the controversial former football president and also pointed to his perceived accomplishments after 100 days at the job.
“I am not here to cast aspersions on anyone’s character. I am not here to blame anyone for anything. I am not here to say anyone did anything. All I am saying to you, these are the facts as discovered.”
Among several startling allegations was the claim that the John-Williams-led administration withheld TT$4 million dollars due to the National Insurance Board (NIB) and Ministry of Finance for NIS, PAYE and health surcharge for employees.
“We’ve discovered that NIS and PAYE, health surcharge; the last time that was paid to the relevant authorities was November of 2017,” said Wallace. “We have since accumulated a debt of $4 million for NIS, health surcharge, PAYE. Now, importantly, this money was reflected as being taken out of the salaries of the employees.
“So $4 million taken out from the salaries of employees and that $4 million has not been paid to the relevant authorities.”
Wallace said he welcomes an investigation into the missing money and hopes to speak to the ‘relevant authorities’.
“There are laws in Trinidad and Tobago that govern that,” he said. “I hope that whoever is supposed to deal with this is guided by that. We will provide information to the relevant authorities.”
Wired868 reached out to John-Williams for comment via a phone call, text message, email and whats app. He did not respond on any of the aforementioned platforms.
John-Williams’ former general secretary, Camara David, also did not comment when asked to explain the discrepancy.
John-Williams is a businessman and contractor and the chairman of Pro League club, W Connection. David is the current general secretary of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU).
David’s predecessor, Justin Latapy-George, left the TTFA in January 2019. He admitted that he knew the football body was behind on its payments for employees but claimed to be shocked by the figure.
“Like in any organisation, these are statutory deductions that are withheld from the remuneration of employees and is to be remitted to the government,” said Latapy-George, who now works as head of sport development at Sportt. “I knew we were behind but I did not know the quantum… The FA is set up with a finance manager and, although the [office] is run by the general secretary, it is really the responsibility of [finance officer] Tyril Patrick.”
Patrick declined comment on his possible role in the alleged misuse of employee money meant for the state. The finance manager, who was hired by John-Williams, refused to attend TTFA AGMs in 2018 or 2019 to answer the membership’s questions on the football body’s financial health—despite allegedly being ordered to do so by Latapy-George—on the grounds that he was due to resign and had been excused by the then football president.
Remarkably, two years later, Patrick continues to serve as the football body’s finance manager under Wallace, even as the current president pointed to a slew of other financial discrepancies, such as 29 bounced cheques issued by the John-Williams-led TTFA including four to League of Champions clubs, Defence Force, Guaya United, Youth Stars United and Moruga FC.
“Interestingly, the FA submitted to Fifa a proposal for the T-league […] and monies were allocated for that project,” said the TTFA president. “TT$990,000 was given to the FA for that project and from that money the clubs were given TT$25,600. So TT$203,200 was spent on the League of Champions, money given to clubs. That left us with TT$786,800—we had a surplus. And yet, cheques bounced.”
However, Wallace suggested that Patrick was not an accomplice to wrongdoing but rather a victim of the TTFA’s lack of internal financial structure.
“[Patrick] said he was acting on instructions when I asked him why he issued the bounced cheques,” said Wallace. “[…] What we are doing now, based on the evaluation and audits we have done, is putting systems in place and reporting structure, etc.
“[…] He is still working with us but there are systems in place to make sure he is governed by proper policy.”
The TTFA’s new internal finance structure, which would presumably transform Patrick into a model accountant, is overseen by accountant Robert Reis and Kendall Tull at present. Both have extensive financial management and audit experience.
Wallace claimed that the work of the pair satisfied a recent delegation of Fifa and Concacaf officials and should see a thawing of relationship between the governing football bodies and the twin island republic.
Fifa, according to current TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan, had delayed paying its annual subvention due to concerns regarding the financial state of the local football body.
“Fifa were very happy with the report that was generated […] through our finance committee [of] Robert Reis and Kendall Tull,” said Wallace, who said the pair have addressed several weaknesses within the TTFA’s set-up. “We found an absence of any kind of internal structure within the FA; there were no internal financial controls.
“[…] Fifa were very happy [with the report by Reis and Tull] and said we did half of their job for them.”
Wallace reiterated that John-Williams gave the TTFA’s debt at TT$16 million in 2016. However, since then, the current president said the debt climbed to ‘TT$50 million and rising’.
The TTFA’s new debts include: TT$184,000 to match agents, TT$1.3 million to technical staff members and over TT$1 million in match fees to players. Ironically, as Wallace noted, John-Williams boasted about raising over TT$6 million from overseas matches while he appeared to have not been paying his bills.
Wallace also spoke at length about the state of the Home of Football and the design and insurance issues that continue to make it unsafe for use.
“There was absolutely no fire clearance for the hotel. For you to get fire clearance you must be able to provide the following and all of these things are missing: fire detection and alarm system, no emergency voice communication system, no emergency lighting, no portable fire extinguishers, no firehose reel system, no dedicated water supply (we are borrowing water from the SPORTT Company), no fire pump…
“Now this hotel was opened and we had four youth teams and our national senior team stay in this hotel […] and all of this was missing.”
(Wired868 will provide more details on the Home of Football in a separate report tomorrow.)
On the debit side, Wallace pointed to a TT$25 million clothing deal with UK-based company, Avec Sport, and a TT$1.5 million deal with local company, Caribbean Chemicals.
Wallace also claimed to have sponsors in place for the TTFA FA Trophy Cup and a TTFA-run three-tiered domestic competition, which fellows a similar format to the previously proposed T-League and will absorb the Pro League and TT Super League competitions. However, he said he will reveal the names of those companies at a separate press launch.
The new local league, he said, will start in mid-June and will offer prize money.
He also claimed that the TTFA has activated 10 of its 11 statutory committees—only two were active at the end of John-Williams’ term in office—and boasted about having over 20 medical professionals and doctors on the body’s medical committee.
He revealed too that the TTFA reached an out of court settlement with former journalist Selwyn Melville over the Soca Warriors trademark and hopes to soon reach an agreement with former technical director Kendall Walkes as well.
At present, the TTFA’s bank accounts are still frozen due to a garnishee order executed by Walkes for non-payment.
Wallace said that Lawrence’s contract also represents part of the local body’s 50 million debt, which he hopes to clear within the next three years. However, he did not offer an update on discussions with the former Warriors head coach.
The salaries of the TTFA’s current technical staffs was given at TT$4.3 million per year in a recent board meeting. However, Wallace said that the football body can meet most of its operating costs with just its Fifa Forward money of US$1.2 million per year with ‘a deficit of just under TT$200,000’.
Through One Concacaf funding of US$150,000 per year and private sponsorship, he hopes to raise the additional revenue.
It is uncertain whether the operating costs mentioned included overseas trips and camps for national teams; and, up to the time of publication, Wallace could not be reached for clarification.
The TTFA president insisted, though, that, despite the setbacks, local football is already in a better condition than when he took office.
“We are doing our best in the circumstances,” he said. “Things are going to get so much better—and faster than anyone thinks.”
TTFA Presidents speaks on 100 days in office.
As reported widely by the media and in a Guardian report which stated, “Over $4 million in payments for national insurance (NIS), health surcharge and PAYE (Pay As You Earn) remains unaccounted for, by the T&T Football Association (TTFA) under the previous administration
“On Wednesday, new president William Wallace, in giving an update on what his administration met when they assumed office what they have done so far after 100 days, said they have already reported their findings to the relevant authorities and are seeking ways to bring the payments of employees up to date.
On Wednesday, new president William Wallace, in giving an update on what his administration met when they assumed office what they have done so far after 100 days, said they have already reported their findings to the relevant authorities and are seeking ways to bring the payments of employees up to date.
The unpaid $4 million, Wallace said is for two years as the last payment on NIS, PAYE and health surcharge was made in November 2017.
This was only one of many situations the Wallace-led administration said it encountered on November 24, last year. According to Wallace, he was not casting any aspersions on anyone but is stating the facts, said: “In a press conference in December 2016 the then president of the TTFA, David John-Williams, indicated that there was a debt of $16 million. That debt is now at $50 million and counting. When we got in there in November, there was no money to pay staff. We discovered that NIS, PAYE and health surcharge, the last time that was paid to the relevant authorities, was in November 2017. We have since accumulated a debt of $4 million. Important here, this money was reflected as being taken out of the salaries of the employees.”
In a grim description of why the sport had sunken to the point it has been at for the past four years, Wallace said: “We have travel agencies being owed over $850,000 and these agencies are at the verge of closing down at this point; A loan taken from CONCACAF for US$600,000. That loan was taken in 2017 and interest on the loan, monthly is US$2,500. The principal is still outstanding, plus the interest totalling US$63,000. We were also faced with 29 bounced cheques totalling $345,000, incidentally, four of those cheques were paid to clubs in the League that was formed just before the elections (the League of Champions),” Wallace revealed.
The teams receiving the bounced cheques were Defence Force, Guaya United, Youth Stars United and Moruga FC.
“In another jaw-dropping revelation to a packed media gathering, Wallace said the TTFA last year also received $990,000 for the proposed T-League, which was designed to restructure top-flight local football and put it on par with some of the top Leagues worldwide. Instead, Wallace said the money was used for the League of Champions, and despite being in a surplus position, cheques given to clubs bounced,” the Guardian stated.
Wallace added that match agents are being owed despite claims of monies being earned for international game between 2016-2019.
“Actually, one person went to the FIFA and FIFA ruled against the FA. So we have outstanding for match agents $148,000. And match fees to players for those game were not paid since June, totalling just over a million dollars. Coaches and technical staff have not been paid since June, totalling $1.3 million.”
Meanwhile, intentions to use the Home of Football as an income-generating measure has been dashed, due to structural flaws. Wallace said, in addition to huge sums of monies being owed on facility to the tune of $2 million, they have had to close the Home of Football because of no fire clearance, no alarm, no emergency voice communication system, no emergency lighting, no portable fire extinguishers, no fire hose reel system, no dedicated water supply, no fire pump, no liability insurance, leakages, flooded steps, and poorly installed door frames.
The Guardian also reported “After 100 days in office the T&T Football Association (TTFA), under the leadership of William Wallace, has had a lot to brag about.
In a comparison of what Wallace and the TTFA met when they assumed office last year, to what they have done to date, Wallace at a press conference at the President’s Box of the Queen’s Park Oval on Wednesday said a significant step has been made to clear off the debt of the football association.
The local football boss said they have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to treat with the debt situation, which has now reached $50 million, and they have also settled a 15-year dispute with former radio commentator and journalist Selwyn Melville on the rightful owner of the ‘Soca Warriors’ name.
“The debt of $50 million, we have signed an MOU where that is concerned and we should be able to take care of that debt in two to three years, and who knows, it might probably be before that. There was a matter in the court for probably 15 years, the Selwyn Melville matter where the issue of the trademark was in the court. And really and truly, when we looked at everything, the FA had absolutely no evidence to claim the trademark. So here we have a matter in the court, we are paying legal fees and so on and we have no evidence. We have taken that matter out of the courts, it has been settled, and at this point in time we are drawing up an arrangement to move forward with Selwyn Melville, who has claimed the trademark, for profit-sharing from the trademark,” Wallace explained.
The MOU comes at an ideal time after a team from the CONCACAF and FIFA visited recently and advised the TTFA to not bother to use the Home of Football in Balmain, Couva as a revenue-generating avenue. This Wallace said was because of the many structural flaws that existed, as well as the inability to secure proper emergency systems.
Wallace also said there was no kitchen at the facility and therefore they will attempt to have their youth teams, use the dorms, or try to partner with a company to see how it can be utilized. “The building is up but we have to find a way to utilize it. In terms of project money that we were supposed to have to the tune of $2 million is now down to $109, 000 at this point in time, and we have not received our FIFA money yet which is for operations. The Board is discussing ways we can move forward, once the building can be used, whether it’s a profit-sharing arrangement, I don’t know that we have the expertise to run a hotel,” Wallace said.
The TTFA has also secured a $25 million apparel deal: set up a new website: secured a broadcast and digital rights partner: sealed its first domestic sponsor: secured a sponsor for the FA: commissioned the creation of a strategic plan: meeting with creditors on an on-going basis: paid out $1 million to creditors: paid $227, 000 to the technical staff: paid $135, 000 to players: acquired the services of a Senior Counsel pro bono: secured a sponsor for elite football- new League for Pro League, Super League and zonal clubs in a three-Tier system: and has set up a Sports and Science Medical Committee with a mandate to develop programmes, among many others.