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08
Sat, Aug

Wallace played critical role in Walkes contract.
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Af­ter the Trinidad and To­ba­go Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion's ac­counts were re­cent­ly frozen by for­mer em­ploy­ee Kendall Walkes, who served as tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor from 2014 to 2016, many ques­tions were left unan­swered sur­round­ing the de­vel­op­ment which ef­fec­tive­ly paral­ysed the or­gan­i­sa­tion fi­nan­cial­ly, as it di­rect­ly af­fects the front­line stake­hold­ers of the sport, among them the ad­min­is­tra­tion, play­er and tech­ni­cal staff.

One of the key ques­tions be­ing asked by some mem­bers of the TTFA board di­rec­tors, led by pres­i­dent William Wal­lace, is why the body didn't ap­peal the judge­ment?

To­day, Guardian Me­dia Sports in­ves­ti­gates the cir­cum­stances which led to the dif­fi­cult sit­u­a­tion in which the Wal­lace-led TTFA has now found it­self and which could even­tu­al­ly lead to FI­FA and CON­CA­CAF in­stalling a Nor­mal­i­sa­tion Com­mit­tee to run the af­fairs of the cashed-strapped body.

In 2014, An­ton Corneal re­signed as TTFA tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor sight­ing non-pay­ment of salaries for al­most four years, a fig­ure which stood at TT$3.5 mil­lion. In March 2015, the TTFA hired Walkes as Corneal's re­place­ment.

But con­cerns over this were raised by the then-new TTFA elect­ed in No­vem­ber 2015 with David John-Williams at the helm and FI­FA got in­volved via a meet­ing held here in T&T.

Guardian Me­dia Sports has seen a let­ter of Feb­ru­ary 2016 which FI­FA wrote to then act­ing TTFA gen­er­al sec­re­tary Aza­ad Khan in­di­cat­ing that Walkes' con­tract “con­tains er­rors or mis­lead­ing in­for­ma­tion and is miss­ing in­for­ma­tion.” FI­FA al­so not­ed that “the salary and oth­er com­pen­sa­tion in­clud­ed in the con­tract does not co­in­cide with the cur­rent fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion of the TTFA. There­fore, we strong­ly rec­om­mend that you re­view and re­do the afore­men­tioned con­tract.”

Re­li­able sources in­di­cat­ed that af­ter sev­er­al meet­ings with Walkes to fix the con­tact act­ing on FI­FA's ad­vice failed, a cor­re­spon­dence was is­sued to him in March 2016 by John-Williams.

<TTFA let­ter to Kendall Walkes>

Re: Your Em­ploy­ment sta­tus

I re­fer to the mat­ter at the cap­tion and the on­go­ing dis­cus­sions be­tween your­self and the TTFA.

Af­ter con­sid­er­able de­lib­er­a­tion, we have con­clud­ed that the TTFA has no al­ter­na­tive but to ter­mi­nate your em­ploy­ment with them.

I ask that you note that we did make every ef­fort to lo­cate an orig­i­nal con­tract of em­ploy­ment be­tween your­self and the TTFA, but notwith­stand­ing ex­ten­sive search­es, we were un­able to lo­cate this doc­u­ment – you al­so con­firmed at our meet­ing on the 1st March 2016 that you did not have an orig­i­nal du­pli­cate of your con­tract and would be re­ly­ing on the pho­to­copied doc­u­ment here­to at­tached.

It is our con­sid­ered view that this doc­u­ment is not on­ly in­com­plete but has al­so not been prop­er­ly ex­e­cut­ed.

In light of the find­ings of FI­FA and the ab­sence of a prop­er­ly ex­e­cut­ed and valid con­tract of em­ploy­ment, we are forced to con­sid­er your en­gage­ment with the TTFA as a month to month rolling con­tract. Please note that we will re-ad­ver­tise the po­si­tion and you are in­vit­ed to re­sub­mit your ap­pli­ca­tion for our con­sid­er­a­tion.”

DJW

<Court rul­ing & ap­peal dead­line>

On Sep­tem­ber 27, 2019, in a rul­ing, the High Court award­ed Walkes un­der US$800,000 for breach of con­tract.

On De­cem­ber 23, 2019, Jus­tice Joan Charles is­sued her writ­ten rul­ing in the mat­ter – the fi­nal or­der hav­ing been made on No­vem­ber 7, 2019 and then amend­ed on De­cem­ber 31, 2019.

The TTFA had 42 days from that date to ap­peal (un­til Feb­ru­ary 11, 2020) the rul­ing.

On Feb­ru­ary 13, 2020, Walkes, through at­tor­ney Melis­sa Roberts-John, took out a gar­nishee court or­der that froze the TTFA's ac­counts, ef­fec­tive­ly shut­ting down its op­er­a­tions. On Feb­ru­ary 18 and 19, 2020, cur­rent TTFA pres­i­dent Wal­lace and gen­er­al sec­re­tary Ramesh Ram­dan, via the me­dia, ex­pressed dis­may that the ac­tion was tak­en, as they were in ne­go­ti­a­tion with Walkes. How­ev­er, they ac­cept­ed it was the le­gal right of the Unit­ed States-based coach.

"We are not in any po­si­tion to treat with the mat­ter at this point,” Wal­lace said then. “But we have a debt re­duc­tion project that we want to start lat­er in the year and we want him to con­sid­er us and hold his hand. We are ask­ing for an ad­vance from our for­eign spon­sors to get some ear­ly mon­ey.”

Wal­lace ad­mit­ted that nei­ther he nor his gen­er­al sec­re­tary had yet in­formed the TTFA board (7 days af­ter the news broke) even as the foot­ball fra­ter­ni­ty had heard the news par­tial­ly in an I95.5FM re­port on Feb­ru­ary 18.

Wal­lace al­so told the me­dia, “This sit­u­a­tion was such a sur­pris­ing one and we have been try­ing to work out how to re­solve it. We are try­ing from our end to find a res­o­lu­tion be­fore we make an is­sue of it but we will have to in­form the board and Ramd­han is try­ing to get an ad­vance from over­seas spon­sors—we are get­ting some trac­tion there.”

He con­tin­ued, “We asked (for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary) Shel­don (Phillips) not to go through the court process and those talks are on­go­ing. The Walkes and Phillips con­tracts are two of the worst con­tracts we have ever seen. They were heav­i­ly weight­ed against the TTFA and leave all the op­tions open to the em­ploy­ee. But the fact is there is a con­tract and the man is owed, so we have to treat with it.”

Both Walkes and Phillips were hired by late for­mer TTFA pres­i­dent Ray­mond Tim Kee.

In the case of Walkes, ac­cord­ing to Wal­lace, he had a clause which al­lowed him to uni­lat­er­al­ly re­new his own con­tract. So Walkes told the High Court that he would en­force that right and, as a re­sult, the foot­ball body must pay his salary from 2015 to 2022.

<TTFA vows to set­tle Phillips mat­ter out of court>

Al­so, via a news re­lease on De­cem­ber 15, 2019, ti­tled De­ci­sions Tak­en — one of the items high­light­ed was that the Shel­don Phillips le­gal mat­ter would be im­me­di­ate­ly with­drawn from the In­dus­tri­al Court and an out of court set­tle­ment agreed with Phillips.

In doc­u­ments seen by Guardian Me­dia Sports, Phillip sought a set­tle­ment from the John-Williams ad­min­is­tra­tion of US$1,442,053.35 based on a pur­port­ed con­tract worth US$15,500 per month. We have seen doc­u­ments, job let­ters and re­turned cheques from the bank in­di­cat­ing that Phillips' salary was, in fact, US$4,000 a month plus hous­ing.

Wit­ness state­ments, cor­re­spon­dences and a copy of the Walkes' con­tract re­lat­ed to the case vs the TTFA al­so re­veal some star­tling de­tails.

<TTFA 3 Wit­ness state­ments in sup­port of Walkes>

It's in­ter­est­ing to note that for­mer TTFA pres­i­dent Tim Kee, Phillips and Wal­lace all pro­duced and signed wit­ness state­ments in sup­port of Walkes' mat­ter against the TTFA and there were sim­i­lar­i­ties in all three. What there­fore was the re­la­tion­ship be­tween these three in­di­vid­u­als?

For­mer TTFA gen­er­al sec­re­tary Shel­don Phillips' wit­ness state­ment read in part:

“A tech­ni­cal com­mit­tee “here­after the com­mit­tee” was formed by the de­fen­dant to over­see the hir­ing process of the va­cant tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor po­si­tion. The com­mit­tee com­prised of Mr Richard Quan Chan (the com­mit­tee’s chair­man), Mr Neville Fer­gu­son, Mr Stephan Hart and my­self.”

“In Feb­ru­ary 2015, I was present at a round­table meet­ing at the de­fen­dant's head­quar­ters. The de­fen­dants, then pres­i­dent Mr Ray­mond Tim Kee, the de­fen­dant’s team man­ag­er Mr William Wal­lace, were al­so in at­ten­dance at the meet­ing. Mr William Wal­lace served as an ad­vi­sor in the hir­ing process of the va­cant po­si­tion of the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor, hence his at­ten­dance at the meet­ing.

“The dis­cus­sion al­so in­volved the terms and con­di­tions of his em­ploy­ment which in­clud­ed his re­mu­ner­a­tion and du­ra­tion of the con­tract as well as oth­er con­trac­tu­al in­cen­tives such as re­lo­ca­tion com­pen­sa­tion, health ben­e­fit, trans­porta­tion, hous­ing and tele­phone al­lowances.”

Tim Kee's wit­ness state­ment in part read:

In Feb­ru­ary 2015, I met with Mr Walkes at the de­fen­dant's head­quar­ters. Al­so present at that meet­ing were Mr William Wal­lace, the then team man­ag­er (who served as an ad­vi­sor in the hir­ing process of the tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor) and Mr Phillips. The pur­pose of the meet­ing was to speak to Mr Walkes since he was rec­om­mend­ed by the com­mit­tee as the best per­son for the job among ap­pli­cants."

Judg­ing from the con­tents of the three wit­ness state­ments Guardian Me­dia Sports have seen from Wal­lace, Phillips and Tim Kee, the cur­rent TTFA pres­i­dent was fa­mil­iar with the de­tails of Walkes’ con­tract.

If that is so, the ques­tion is why Wal­lace, now TTFA pres­i­dent, re­cent­ly told the me­dia, "The Walkes and Phillips con­tracts are two of the worst con­tracts we have ever seen. They were heav­i­ly weight­ed against the TTFA and leave all the op­tions open to the em­ploy­ee. But the fact is there is a con­tract and the man is owed, so we have to treat it.”

<Why didn't TTFA ap­peal>

So why did the present TTFA and for­mer pres­i­dent John Williams did not ap­peal the mat­ter?

Guardian Me­dia Sports reached out to John-Williams, who was very re­luc­tant to speak on the mat­ter.

He said, "I want to stay very clear of the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion fac­ing the TTFA at present. I am no longer the pres­i­dent."

Pressed fur­ther for a re­sponse as to why the mat­ter was not ap­pealed, he said, "In­struc­tions via email in late Oc­to­ber 2019 to the then TTFA at­tor­ney to pre­pare an ap­peal against the court rul­ing and at the same time ap­ply to the court for a stay in the mat­ter."

John-Williams' term of of­fice end­ed on No­vem­ber 24, 2019.

Guardian Me­dia Sports al­so reached out to TTFA at­tor­ney An­nand Misir.

He said, "I ceased to be the TTFA le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tive on 10 De­cem­ber 2019 and sug­gest­ed that all ques­tions be di­rect­ed to the cur­rent TTFA. "

Wal­lace told the me­dia on Feb­ru­ary 18 and 19 that, “I wrote to Kendall (Walkes) on Feb­ru­ary 3, in­di­cat­ing that we ac­cept­ed the judg­ment of the court (against the TTFA) and we are not in any po­si­tion to treat with the mat­ter at this point.”

When con­tact­ed and asked why the TTFA did not ap­peal the mat­ter, Wal­lace said, "The judge­ment was hand­ed down 27th Sep­tem­ber and we as­sumed of­fice on 25th No­vem­ber. "

Yes­ter­day, Wal­lace told Guardian Me­dia Sports that, "the lawyer did meet with the TTFA and an up­date was giv­en. In­ci­den­tal­ly, he ad­dressed the Hart mat­ter. I as­sumed the pe­ri­od had passed for the Walkes mat­ter. We did com­mu­ni­cate with Mr Walkes' At­tor­ney and her client is re­quest­ing 50% of what is due to him."

<DJW re­port to 2018 TTC­FA AGM>

So why did the cur­rent TTFA ad­min­is­tra­tion head­ed by Wal­lace not ap­peal the mat­ter hav­ing full knowl­edge of the facts sur­round­ing the case and FI­FA's con­cerns with the con­tract, in­clud­ing rais­ing the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of the TTFA.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­port pre­sent­ed to the mem­bers and del­e­gates at the 2018 TTFA AGM, the Walkes court mat­ter and all the de­tails sur­round­ing it were high­light­ed in a re­port pre­sent­ed by John-Williams with re­gards to the TTFA debt.

The sec­tion of the re­port per­tain­ing to the Walkes mat­ter reads:

"I will like to share with the mem­ber­ship be­fore it gets dis­tort­ed in the pub­lic do­main the fol­low­ing.

1. The sit­u­a­tion with our for­mer tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Mr Kendall Walkes

2. The claim against TTFA by the for­mer pres­i­dent’s son (Ray­mond Tim Kee).

3. The claim against TTFA by the for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary

4. A claim made by Jack Warn­er against the FA

I must share with mem­bers some facts sur­round­ing these four mat­ters.

Kendall Walkes:

Up­on as­sum­ing of­fice we could not find on file with­in the TTFA a con­tract for Mr Walkes yet we dis­cov­ered some pay­ments made to him and on his be­half in terms of salary and rent which to­talled more than TT$90,000.00/mth. Sub­se­quent­ly, Mr Walkes pre­sent­ed a con­tract to us. At a time when fund­ing was sus­pend­ed by FI­FA and who was at the time ad­vis­ing fed­er­a­tions in the re­gion on what a TD com­pen­sa­tion pack­age should be (USD 4500-5000 per month), the ques­tion must be: based on what pro­ject­ed in­come was Mr Walkes pack­age based up­on.

Up­on re­ceiv­ing of the said doc­u­ment and pre­sent­ing same to FI­FA, which was a re­quire­ment for the reestab­lish­ment of the FAP fund­ing, we were ad­vised cer­tain ac­tions to be tak­en in this mat­ter. The mat­ter is be­fore the courts of T&T.”

The at­ten­dance records of that AGM of 2018 shows that among those present were three cur­rent TTFA board mem­bers in the per­sons of Kei­th Look Loy, Richard Quan Chan and Brent San­cho.

At that meet­ing, San­cho was ap­point­ed as a scru­ti­neer by the meet­ing to re­view the sup­port­ing doc­u­ments pre­sent­ed by then-pres­i­dent John-Williams. The doc­u­ments in­clud­ed the Walkes con­tract.

The TTFA is now faced with a dif­fi­cult task of set­tling a huge debt to Walkes but more im­por­tant­ly, in the short term, ne­go­ti­at­ing an agree­ment to have the gar­nishee lift­ed so that staff, coach­es and oth­ers can be paid if not this month-end cer­tain­ly in the com­ing months.

Asked for an up­date on the mat­ter yes­ter­day fol­low­ing the an­nounce­ment of a four-year TT$25 mil­lion Avex kit deal, Wal­lace said, "We are cur­rent­ly in dis­cus­sions to treat with the frozen ac­counts and more im­por­tant­ly the his­toric debt. We are hop­ing to re­solve the sit­u­a­tion as soon as pos­si­ble."

Guardian Me­dia Sports watch­es on with in­ter­est since there are oth­ers like Shel­don Phillips, An­ton Corneal, Rus­sell Lat­apy, Stephen Hart and for­mer TTFA ad­vi­sor Jack Warn­er and sup­pli­ers who can fol­low in Walkes' foot­step with gar­nishee or­ders of their own. In fact, Guardian Me­dia has seen an­oth­er court or­der dat­ed Feb­ru­ary 2019 for TT$.7mil­lion from a sup­pli­er who is just wait­ing to cash in.