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Fri, Oct

Wallace outlines the good, the bad and the ugly about the TTFA.
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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.

RELATED NEWS

$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.
TTFA Media.


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.