Former FIFA vice president and T&T Football Association Special Advisor Austin Jack Warner and former TTFA General Secretary, Sheldon Phillips head the list of 289 creditors who have made claims of TT$84.5 million (US$13.5 million) owed to them by the TTFA.
Warner, a key figure in local football from the 1980s, and Phillips, the son of former national goalkeeper Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips have all submitted their claims to the local football federation trustee Maria Daniel.
On March 7, former national player and T&T head coach Dennis Lawrence won a multi-million-dollar High Court judgment against the TTFA who fired him on December 2019, for breach of contract, non-payment of his salaries and bonuses. He also has submitted a claim to the TTFA creditors for settlement along with Stephen Hart, Kendall Walkes, Terry Fenwick, Peter Miller, Anton Corneal, Russell Latapy, Ross Russell, former general secretaries Ramesh Ramdhan and Camara David, the T&T Football Referees Association, are among other creditors which comprises a very wide cross-section of players, technicals staff, administrative staff, companies and government agencies.
The TTFA general council had approved the sports’ debt at $98m in October 2021.
Last month, in a media release from the TTFA, creditors with claims against the TTFA were asked to individually submit a proof of claim on or before April 8 to Daniel, a chartered financial analyst and partner in Transaction Advisory Services, of Ernst and Young Services Limited.
In a March 22 notice, Daniel who is also the holder of a trustee license under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of T&T said: Each creditor with a claim against the TTFA is required to submit proof of claim supporting documentation in the prescribed form (Form 12) for examination and determination by me as the licensed trustee.
Daniel, who was appointed on November 8, 2021 by the FIFA appointed TTFA Normalisation Committee added: A creditor that does not submit a proof of claim shall not receive any payment pursuant to the proposal of the TTFA.
In my capacity as a licensed trustee, I require creditors that have not yet submitted their proof of claim to obtain a copy of the prescribed form and submit their proof of claim on or before April 8, 2022.
And following the passing of the deadline former CONCACAF boss Warner who has been facing extradition to the US since 2015 when he was indicted by the United States Department of Justice as part of the FIFA scandal was listed as the highest claimant for $TT 22.6 million (US$3.38 million) at the top of the list of the 289 TTFA creditors followed by a claim for TT$12 million by Phillips who was relieved of his position in 2015 and sued the local football body for wrongful dismissal.
A figure of TT$6.11 million is also listed as being owed to government and state creditors.
According to Tuesday report on InsideWorld Football by Paul Nicholson, the offer to unsecured creditors in the papers lodged at the court is for the provision of about US$2.38 million to settle their claims—about TT$12.4 million in total.
This money could come from a US$3 million to loan that is earmarked to settle the full debt.
For that to happen the proposal has to be accepted by the creditors at a meeting on May 5.
A majority of the meeting have to vote in favour of the proposal either in person or by proxy.
With the proposal being that the first TT$200,000 ($29,800) is paid to every creditor, that is pretty much guaranteed as only 31 of the 289 creditors listed have claims above that figure.
The insolvency rules also state that two thirds of the value of the total claim also have to vote in favour of the proposal for it to go through.
This becomes more difficult for the TTFA to achieve as the top 10 creditors represent about 70.5% of the total debt listed. In that top 10 are five former coaches who were unpaid and have court judgements in their favour against the TTFA—the fact that they are owed the money is pretty much undisputed and they are unlikely to accept payment that could be as low as 14 cents on the dollar. Though it could be a lot more if not all proofs of claim are submitted or the trustee rules out a number of claims as invalid—Warner and Phillips’ claims being the most questionable.
The filed court documents say that so far they have received only 59 proof of claims from the 291 creditors listed.
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The financing of the creditor payments is explained as being via an unsecured $3 million loan and with the T&T government already stating they have no intention of providing the funds to clear the debt the name of the provider of the loan is not given but it realistically could only come from FIFA.
The loan is contingent on the creditors agreeing the debt proposal and that it being approved by the court.
The alternative finance solution would have been a sale of the TTFA’s assets, underpinned by the Home of Football facility.
However, the court documents say that this option is not preferred as there are various issues surrounding any sale of the Home of Football facility that suggest a sale would fall significantly short of the valuation.
What it does mean is that if the creditors agreed the proposal the TTFA would enter their new world with a monetiseable asset.
If they don’t agree the proposal, then, at another meeting will be convened within five days to try to find an agreement. If no agreement can be found then the TTFA will be liquidated.