Thu, Mar

Wallace denies intimate knowledge of Walkes contract.

Trinidad and To­ba­go Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Williams Wal­lace is deny­ing that he had any hand in the now con­tro­ver­sial con­tract which was award­ed to for­mer tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor Kendall Walkes.

Wal­lace made the state­ment yes­ter­day as he re­spond­ed to a T&T Guardian ar­ti­cle pub­lished on Thurs­day ti­tled "Wal­lace played crit­i­cal role in Walkes con­tract." on pages 60 and 61.

The ar­ti­cle was based on con­tents from four wit­ness state­ments in the on­go­ing le­gal bat­tle be­tween Walkes and the TTFA which were filed on June 8, 2018, by then for­mer TTFA pres­i­dent Ray­mond Tim Kee (de­ceased), for­mer gen­er­al sec­re­tary Shel­don Phillips, Walkes and Wal­lace. The state­ments gave tes­ti­mo­ny that Wal­lace was in­volved in the process of Walkes’ con­tract from the in­cep­tion and was asked to take an ad­vi­so­ry role by the TTFA at their first meet­ing with the US-based coach. Walkes is now in­volved in a le­gal bat­tle to re­cov­er some in TT$5.3 mil­lion in salaries owed to him and the wit­ness state­ments be­came pub­lic dur­ing the court mat­ter.

On Thurs­day, how­ev­er, Wal­lace chal­lenged the ar­ti­cle, say­ing it made in­cor­rect and in­ac­cu­rate judg­ments based on er­ro­neous in­for­ma­tion.

"My role at the one and on­ly meet­ing I at­tend­ed in re­la­tion to Mr Walkes’ ap­point­ment as TTFA tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor was as an as­sis­tant to the sec­re­tari­at and in my ca­pac­i­ty as se­nior men’s team man­ag­er dur­ing the can­di­date iden­ti­fi­ca­tion process,” Wal­lace wrote in a let­ter.

“The items dis­cussed dur­ing this meet­ing which re­quired my in­put in­clud­ed lo­gis­tics and plan­ning for Mr Walkes’ re­turn to Trinidad once he was se­lect­ed. There were not fi­nal con­trac­tu­al de­tails at this point. There­after I was nev­er privy to any de­tails on Mr Walkes’ fi­nal con­tract."

In Wal­lace's wit­ness state­ment, which Guardian Me­dia Sports re­ceived a copy of, he was list­ed as team man­ag­er from 2013 to 2016 and he de­tailed all that was dis­cussed at the first meet­ing.

The wit­ness state­ments of Tim Kee, Walkes and Phillips, which Guardian Me­dia Sports al­so has copies of), list­ed Wal­lace an ad­vi­sor at the meet­ing which dis­cussed terms and con­di­tions of Walkes’ im­pend­ing deal.

Part of Phillips' state­ment, which list­ed all who were present at the meet­ing, read: “The dis­cus­sion al­so in­volved the terms and con­di­tions of his (Walkes’) 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.”

In their wit­ness state­ments, Phillips and Tim Kee iden­ti­fied Wal­lace as an ad­vi­sor while in his state­ment, Walkes said, "Mr Wal­lace was at the meet­ing in the ca­pac­i­ty of an ad­junct ad­vi­sor in the hir­ing process of the va­cant tech­ni­cal di­rec­tor po­si­tion."

Wal­lace al­so took is­sue with the fol­low­ing quote: “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.”

He said this was in­cor­rect­ly at­trib­uted to him. In fact, this quote was made by cur­rent TTFA act­ing gen­er­al sec­re­tary Ramesh Ramd­han in re­sponse to the re­cent de­ci­sion by Walkes to gar­nish the TTFA’s ac­counts.


Walkes opens negotiations: TTFA asked for TT$2.5 million to lift garnishee order.
By Lasana Liburd (Wired868).

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and former technical director Kendall Walkes have opened discussions regarding a garnishee order that led to a freeze on the local body’s bank accounts. But that is where the good news starts and ends.

The TTFA’s bank accounts have been frozen since 13 February, due to an apparent breakdown in talks between the organisation and its former employee, who was hired under then president Raymond Tim Kee and unceremoniously dismissed by Wallace’s predecessor, David John-Williams.

And, on Carnival Friday, Walkes informed the TTFA of the figure he wants to be paid before he lifts the garnishee order. Wired868 was reliably informed that the former national player asked for TT$2.5 million, which represents almost half of the US$783,000 (TT$5.4 million) settlement that he was awarded by the High Court for breach of contract.

“We are trying to get a temporary something for Kendall [Walkes] to unfreeze the accounts,” Wallace told Wired868, “but the offer put on the table by his attorney is not within our grasp. So we will continue to work on that over the next week.”

Walkes’ attorney, Melissa Roberts-John, confirmed that her client gave a figure to the TTFA last week and are awaiting an official response. She blamed the current impasse on poor communication from the football body, which they are now trying to address.

“We are willing to reach an amicable decision in light of the garnishee order and we are amenable to discussion,” said Roberts-John. “It is a lack of communication that took us here but we are open to a negotiation. Since sending this correspondence, I haven’t heard anything back from them but this is the start of the negotiation.

“At least we are having direct discussion with [the TTFA officials] now.”

While the two parties try to reach an understanding, the hardship will be felt primarily by the TTFA’s office staff and coaches.

“I cannot say whether they will be paid at the end of the month at present,” said Wallace. “We would like to pay our salaries on time because we are striving not to run up any additional bills. So definitely that is an issue. We are looking for a contingency measure so it doesn’t go far beyond the end of the month and hopefully we will at least deal with the office staff.”

The local football body has enough drinking water and equipment to ensure that the national teams can continue training, regardless of the impasse. And, fortunately, the accommodation, flights and meals for the Women’s National Under-20 Team were taken care of before the garnishee order was executed.

However, the TTFA now finds itself unable to provide stipends to the coaches on duty at the Concacaf Under-20 Championship in the Dominican Republic. The Women Soca Warriors qualified for the Round of 16 on Tuesday afternoon and will try to win Group F tomorrow when they face Haiti.

“Ideally we would like to provide a stipend for our coaches and players,” said Wallace. “But they have all the basic things they need to continue, just like our teams training here.”

The TTFA is due an annual Fifa subvention of US$1.5 million (TT$10 million) but, thus far, the governing body has stalled on paying. At present, a mixed delegation from Concacaf and Fifa is in the country to examine the local body’s financial healthy, which is allegedly the first step towards releasing the aforementioned funds.

Former TTFA board member Selby Browne, who unsuccessfully contested the post of first vice-president at last November’s election, has urged Fifa to send in a normalisation committee, which would have the effect of voiding the last election and preparing the member association for fresh leadership.

In such cases, Fifa usually invokes article 14.1(a) and 8.2, which states:

‘Member associations have the following obligations: to comply fully with the Statutes, regulations, directives and decisions of Fifa bodies at any time as well as the decisions of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) passed on appeal on the basis of article 57 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Statutes’;

And, ‘Executive bodies of member associations may under exceptional circumstances
be removed from office by the Council in consultation with the relevant confederation and replaced by a normalisation committee for a specific period of time’.

Outside of unproven claims that disgraced ex-Fifa vice-president Jack Warner was involved in Wallace’s campaign—article 14.1(i) obliges FA to ‘manage their affairs independently and ensure that their own affairs are not influenced by any third parties’—it is difficult to see any legal ground for Fifa to instil a normalisation committee in Trinidad and Tobago, particularly when president Gianni Infantino was a regular visitor to Trinidad during John-Williams’ tenure even as the TTFA’s debt soared.

Wallace, who announced a TT$25 million kit deal with English sport apparel company Avec Sport today, vowed that he could erase the TTFA’s estimated TT$50 million debt within three years.

“[…] Even with the constraints, this FA is going to rise and do well,” said Wallace. “We are going to take ourselves out of the hole we are in. We didn’t come in here without a plan; and that plan is going to unfold as we go forward.

“We came in with a debt of 50 million [TT dollars]. Within three years that debt will be no longer a TTFA debt; I promise Trinidad and Tobago that.”