Tue, Jun

Look Loy slams TTFA bid to host two more tourneys after TT$.5 million loss from U-20 competition.

Financial recklessness!

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member Keith Look Loy has accused president David John-Williams of financial irresponsibility and violating the local football body’s governing structure. The charges come in response to the TTFA’s announcement of its intention to host women’s senior team competitions in April and May.

The TTFA confirmed on Monday that Trinidad will host one of four groups—each involving four nations—in the Women’s Caribbean Football Union (CFU) Challenge Series between 25 and 30 April. And, according to Look Loy, the football body also made a bid for the right to stage another CFU Women’s competition in May, which will serve as the opening qualifying round for the France 2019 Women’s World Cup.

“Playing at home is a good thing but you have to be able to afford it,” said Look Loy. “It is more expensive to host a tournament than to go abroad [and play] and the TTFA is financially unable to host a tournament at present—no matter the size.”

Wired868 understands that the TTFA spent TT$635,921 on the January 2018 CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 tournament while income amounted to just TT$91,077, which means a loss of TT$544,844.

For Look Loy, it is inconceivable that, even as the John-Williams-led TTFA Board pleads with CONCACAF for financial assistance with its bills from the January competition, it is actively seeking to host more tournaments.

“On the heels of that [financial loss], John-Williams, as communicated to us by [general secretary] Justin Latapy-George, spoke to [technical director Anton] Corneal and [director of football Muhammad] Isa and made the decision to apply to host this tournament in May,” said Look Loy. “[…] We lost half a million dollars in January [and] we are coming in April and hosting a tournament that nobody knows about. And now we hear that we holding a larger tournament in May.”

Look Loy, who joined the TTFA board in January, claimed the TTFA’s proposal to host the two competitions was presented to the board as a “fait accompli” and accused John-Williams of riding roughshod over the football body’s governance structures.

“This is financial recklessness in the extreme and, on top of that, it is disrespectful and contemptuous to the functions of the TTFA,” said Look Loy. “We forget that the TTFA president and the other elected officers are subject to the Board and the Board itself is subject to the general meeting. People here get in to Cabinet and feel they own the country!

“You can’t be handing decisions to the Board; the Board is supposed to make the decisions!”

Look Loy further suggested that the financial well-being of the TTFA was being jeopardised for the sake of John-Williams’ ego and international ambitions.

“Based on what I know, the TTFA is in no position to host any tournament of any size at any level,” said the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president. “But we keep doing it because there are people in the TTFA who want to raise their profile and their international status.

“They have their own agenda at the international level and to hell with the financial implications on our Association and its long-term existence.”

John-Williams’ financial stewardship of the TTFA is a contentious issue, particularly after the president was absent for two successive AGMs at which approval of the football body’s financial statement was on the agenda and controversially called off the third one—apparently in contravention of the Constitution.

Halfway through his term, the John-Williams-led Board still has not appointed a finance committee, which often leaves the President to negotiate contracts on his own.

In December 2017, John-Williams signed off on a three-year deal with Creative Group for a giant digital board that will cost the football body close to TT$600,000. The giant screen debuted for the 2017 TTFA FA Cup, which was won by John-Williams’ W Connection Football Club and was used for the CONCACAF Women’s Under-20 competition.

Wired868 understands Board members were told the digital board had the potential to be a money spinner with companies paying to advertise during international sporting events there.

Yet, while there has been no sign of income from the piece of equipment to date, the Women’s Under-20 Team technical staff lamented that there was no money left for international warm-up games in the immediate build-up to the competition, which saw the host team finish dead last.

In February, the Senior Women’s Team also pulled out of the prestigious Cyprus Women’s Cup owing to a lack of funding while Italian coach Carolina Morace left her post in mid-2017 after complaining of having had to go three months without pay.

There have been issues regarding late payments to players and staff of the men’s teams too. And John-Williams’ supposedly abrasive and arrogant attitude with creditors is believed to have contributed to a legal bill of over TT$1.2 million in his first year in office, which was more than 15 times the TT$82,270 spent on legal fees in 2015 under his predecessor, Raymond Tim Kee.

The TTFA’s legal fees in 2017 are expected to climb higher still after unsuccessful tangles with Telemundo, former general secretary Sheldon Phillips and former referees department head Ramesh Ramdhan.

Additionally, former technical director Kendall Walkes, former head coach Stephen Hart and the National Futsal Team have all initiated legal action against the John-Williams-led TTFA Board.

However, although Look Loy, North Zone president Anthony Harford, Referees Football Association (TTRFA) vice-president Osmond Downer and Veteran Footballers Foundation (VFFOTT) president Selby Browne have pleaded for details on the TTFA’s construction of a technical training centre and hotel—dubbed the “Home of Football”—Board member Wayne Cunningham insisted that the work at the Couva venue was sanctioned by the relevant bodies.

Cunningham, who represents the Eastern Football Association (EFA), declined to give any details on the cost of the project, the tendering process or the successful contractor. But he insisted that every step of the project had been validated by the Board.

“You will have to ask the President and General Secretary for information on that,” Cunningham told Wired868. “Only they are allowed to speak on it. But everything was approved by the Board.”

Cunningham, who is serving as TTFA press officer with the Soca Warriors in Guadeloupe at present, refused to answer any question on the TTFA’s decision to host the upcoming women’s competitions.

Look Loy was not yet a Board member when decisions regarding the Home of Football were made and he said that the general secretariat has not so far provided him with any details. He slammed the secrecy surrrounding the project, which, he reiterated, was the business of all TTFA stakeholders and not just the Board.

“I asked them to release to me all information surrounding this project […] on Boxing Day and I still know nothing,” said Look Loy. “This is not the private information of the President and General Secretary or even the Board; the owners of the TTFA are the members and the football fraternity and they should be apprised. Instead, it is like a lodge secret.

“They are not even responding to the legitimate request of a board member now; and, in the absence of facts, people will speculate. Remember this is TTFA money that is being spent, not the money of the President or any Board member.

“We need an end to the secrecy and a beginning of transparency. There are legitimate bodies who should have this information made available to them and [failure to do so] is very disrespectful.”

Up to the time of publication, John-Williams had not responded to a Wired868 request for comment regarding the perceived value of hosting the two upcoming CFU tournaments or the TTFA’s spending on the digital scoreboard and the Home of Football.