THE ARROGANCE and authoritarian leadership of one man – T&T Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams – has resulted in one of the darkest days seen yet in local football, said TTFA board member Keith Look Loy.
On Monday, the High Court ordered a freeze on all of TTFA’s bank accounts, perhaps as many as six, after the association failed to honour a court order in December for the cash-strapped TTFA to pay the national futsal team nearly $500,000 with interest, as well as its legal fees. The ruling followed a two-year lawsuit stemming from unpaid match fees, salaries and expenses.
Today, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh is set to rule on yet another lawsuit facing the TTFA, this one filed by Look Loy, who in December 2017 requested contracts and the identity of contractors associated with the Home of Football project.
The two parties faced the court last month, when Boodoosingh said he was prepared to rule on the matter today if the parties failed to settle the matter privately.
Look Loy said he trusts the court will decide in his favour, and if it does, he intends to visit the TTFA’s office tomorrow with a forensic accountant to examine the documents, which he said include TTFA’s income and expenditure ledger, and the contracts and financial records of the Home of Football.
“A favourable court decision will be a landmark day in the fight for transparency and accountability in TTFA,” he declared.
Meanwhile, the court order to freeze the TTFA’s accounts joins a mounting list of scandals plaguing the association and football nationwide.
Three T&T Pro League clubs – Police FC, North East Stars FC and W Connection all qualified for this year’s Concacaf Caribbean Club Championships, but were recently banned by Concacaf from playing in the tournament because of the TTFA’s failure to implement its club licensing requirements.
Look Loy blamed John-Williams, calling once again for the president’s immediate resignation.
“He has unilaterally, without board approval, forced the association into unwinnable legal matters, thereby increasing its debt. He should do the honourable thing and fall on his sword. He should resign.”
Look Loy said the freeze on the TTFA’s bank accounts presents an “existential threat to the association.”
“TTFA cannot spend a cent, cannot pay staff, cannot run its programmes, cannot support the preparation of the Under-17 team that is preparing for Concacaf action in early May.
“The potential for TTFA creditors to come after the association’s accounts and assets, such as the Home of Football, is obvious and real.
He added that the court’s freezing of the accounts supports his argument against the Sport Company of T&T (SporTT) using its funds to support the formation of the proposed new elite league being organised by the TTFA.
“This money should come directly to the league and its member clubs,” he insisted.
Further to TTFA’s defeat to the futsal team, there are still looming legal battles between the association and former national women’s team coach Carolina Morace, former TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips, former technical director Kendall Walkes, and others, with combined damages being claimed in the millions of dollars.
“Due to its increasing debt, there is talk of the need to wind up TTFA and to establish a new association. This is the reality that faces our football,” Look Loy said.
The various lawsuits and court rulings have rekindled memories of the former TTFF’s failure to honour a High Court order to pay 13 of the players who represented T&T at the 2006 World Cup a total of $4.6 million (US$724,000). In 2012, police carried out an order to seize all removable assets from the federation’s Dundonald Street, Port of Spain office.
Newsday tried unsuccessfully to reach John-Williams by phone yesterday and also sent an e-mail him to ask, among other things, if he is concerned that the association’s assets, including the Home of Football project, may be liquidated and if he has any intention of resigning as a result of the latest series of scandals.
However, the TTFA issued a media release last evening, acknowledging that they inherited a debt of over $30 million “and continue the uphill task of addressing that financial situation, while also addressing the ongoing operating requirements of the Association.”
The TTFA stated, “This matter at hand has to be dealt with in the same manner as other matters of a similar nature that we have dealt with over the past three-year period.
“Unfortunately, the funding is just not there at this time to service these debts, but we at the TTFA continue to soldier on, hence the reason for emphasis on completing the Hotel and the Home of Football which will be a major income generation project not just for football but will change the face of sport in T&T.”
The media release added, “We are very mindful of those whose sole agenda is to destroy T&T Football by their actions, but under no circumstances shall they derive such a result.”
SOURCE: T&T Newsday