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.”