The following is the second part of Wired868’s look into the short but eventful tenure of the William Wallace-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA); and was done through a series of interviews, on condition of anonymity, with five persons from the United TTFA slate and/or employed elsewhere within the local body:
It did not take Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy long before he lost his notoriously paper-thin patience.
His high profile appointment insisted on doing what he wanted to do and refused to accept the chain of command that made him answerable to the committee.
“I must express my complete dissatisfaction with your disruptive behaviour, your poor response to the directives of the technical committee, and your evident failure to pursue your responsibilities to date,” stated a peeved Look Loy.
This was not a budding showdown between Look Loy and the equally combustible Englishman Terry Fenwick. Rather, his target was the supposedly mild-mannered technical director Dion La Foucade—a man who included his pastor, Doug White, among the list of references on his CV.
It was six days past La Foucade’s deadline to present a regional centres training syllabus and grassroots programme to the technical committee. And, reminded of that fact, La Foucade responded with requests of his own: ‘a professional TTFA contract’, a computer and printer, and ‘transportation or remuneration for same—as the job requires my physical presence at many venues for meetings or otherwise’.
“In order for me to operate with the degree of professionalism required and to meet all of the deadlines,” stated La Foucade, “I herein reiterate that I am still at the time of this reply in need of the following…”
La Foucade copied his email to TTFA president William Wallace, vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip and general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan.
Look Loy retorted that the office sourced for La Foucade, on the second floor of the Ato Boldon Stadium, had ‘all the basic furniture—desks and chairs—that anyone could reasonably require to begin work and to prepare the documents in question’; and that he should already have his letter of appointment.
And he gave short shrift to La Foucade’s perceived attempt to renegotiate perks for himself.
“I remind you that we had several conversations both prior to and after your appointment regarding the terms and conditions of your service for one year,” the technical committee chairman replied. “I further remind you that you accepted the position of TTFA technical director on the basis of a flat TT$20,000 monthly salary, with no allowances.
“[…] It is unethical for you to now demand ‘transportation or remuneration for same’ after the fact.”
The issues with La Foucade’s appointment went further than his belated demands, though. Under Look Loy’s guidance, the TTFA had reshaped its technical programme. Ostensibly, the idea was to create a system with more accountability for coaches and teams. But there was a significant twist.
In the previous set-up, the TTFA’s technical director ran all national football programmes outside of the Men’s National Senior Team, and reported to the technical committee—when there was a functioning one.
But under the Wallace-led administration, all national team programmes, including the Men’s National Team, were supervised, not by the technical director, but directly by the technical committee. And, by and large, the members of that committee were handpicked by its chairman, Look Loy.
In short, Look Loy was the cornerstone of the TTFA’s technical programme; and arguably the most powerful technical committee chairman in the football body’s history.
Look Loy could point to the Concacaf quarterfinal finish of the Women’s National Under-20 Team as justification for the new model. But La Foucade, whose authority was reduced to looking after the academies and grassroots game, paid the price for that.
Whether La Foucade would have even qualified for the job as it was previously interpreted is another matter. He never served as head coach in an international tournament at any level, while his only spell of competitive football were unremarkable stints at St Mary’s College and St Anthony’s College.
But, having accepted the brief, La Foucade pushed hard to broaden his powers. Look Loy pushed back.
“You could tell Derek King and Angus Eve anything?!” asked Look Loy, as La Foucade demanded oversight over the national teams. “What you going to tell them? Those men are immeasurably more experienced than you!”
Incidentally, La Foucade appeared to find even his diminished duties to be extremely challenging; and his first attempt to submit programmes to the technical committee was dismissed as plagiarism.
“The document you submitted is not only a cut and paste job from someone else’s work, it is also redundant,” stated Look Loy, when his technical director finally submitted the requested paperwork. “I may add that copyright issues undoubtedly arise. I find this to be an extremely intellectually lazy approach to the important work you have been charged with…”
Fenwick proved to be the biggest challenge to the technical committee’s authority, though, for reasons that were not fully understood at the time.
Unlike La Foucade, there was no doubting Fenwick’s know-how. But there was considerable baggage too.
Brash and blunt, the England 1986 World Cup defender was never shy to give his view on who the best coach on the island was. And controversy followed him on and off the field: from his cringeworthy forearm smash into the head of W Connection’s Brazilian playmaker Gefferson Goulart, to his business dealings with huckster Peter Miller—which once included hoovering up the island’s young talent from various clubs to a scouting agency, Pro Sports Caribbean Limited, headquartered in the tax haven of Anguilla.
Fenwick was not an official part of the United TTFA; but, privately, he had Wallace’s ear and more besides. And although the TTFA vice-presidents claimed to be uncertain about the extent of Wallace’s relationship with Miller, there was no doubt that one existed—and Fenwick was the latter’s proxy.
At the first board meeting of the new administration on 14 December, Look Loy recommended that Fenwick replace the floundering Dennis Lawrence as Soca Warriors head coach.
“Fenwick was the top candidate for the previous technical committee and he has confirmed his availability pending terms of his contract,” said Look Loy.
Fellow board member, Brent Sancho, who was Fenwick’s employer at Central FC, resisted. At present, Fenwick is suing for Sancho for unpaid bonuses.
“Who else was considered?” asked Sancho. “Why didn’t the technical committee give us a shortlist?”
Wallace backed Look Loy’s case for the Englishman—a Pro League champion coach with San Juan Jabloteh and Central. Fenwick, he said, was the best locally-based coach and a cheaper alternative than the foreign ones.
“You have to remember that [with] the foreign coaches it is not just about salary,” said Wallace. “Because you also have to factor in housing, vehicle and trips back home…”
Sancho suggested former international players Brian Haynes and Angus Eve as potential head coaches while Referees Association president Joseph Taylor pointed to current assistant coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier.
Eventually, they agreed to postpone the decision until Look Loy could present the board with not just a shortlist of coaches but the requested salaries of the contenders too.
“Remember to include the salary Fenwick is asking for,” Sancho stressed.
Miller, as Wallace later pointed out, made a ‘final offer’ of US$20,000 per month on Fenwick’s behalf in an email on 17 December, which was a significant concession from his starting point.
It was not an outlandish figure. Former head coach Stephen Hart started at US$20,000 per month before triggering a hike to US$25,000 per month after helping the Warriors to the 2018 Concacaf Hex. Russell Latapy was paid US$30,000 per month during his largely unsuccessful period at the helm.
However, Lawrence earned US$17,500 and, due to the TTFA’s financial constraints, Look Loy insisted that Fenwick would not get one cent more than that.
Even then, Fenwick was the most expensive coach on the technical committee’s shortlist; and he was not the most accomplished either.
On 19 December, when Look Loy emailed the board, the list of coaches included Peter Taylor—a one-time England Premier League Manager of the Month with Leicester City, whose CV included two years as England Men’s National Under-20 head coach and a solitary game as caretaker coach of the England National Senior Team.
Taylor (P) wanted US$15,000 per month net and was happy to work with a 12 month rolling contract. However, his demands included: free ‘quality accommodation’ in Trinidad, free business class tickets to Trinidad and six for his wife, a car, performance bonuses and working expenses for telephone calls and meetings.
Perhaps crucially, Taylor (P) was contracted to Dagenham & Redbridge—a National League club, below England’s four professional tiers—until June and was not willing to live in Trinidad, but proposed to fly across the Atlantic Ocean for national duty when necessary.
Fenwick, as Look Loy pointed out, was available to start right away, knew the players and did not need the expensive add-ons. But, privately, it was difficult work to drive Fenwick down to a manageable price.
On 17 December, Miller emailed Wallace and copied Look Loy:
“After much discussions, a revised position [of US$20,000] has been arrived at which is attached for your information prior to our discussions on Thursday. Please feel free to give feedback in order to arrive at a firm position given the urgency of the matter.”
The following day, Miller and Look Loy spoke on the phone.
“Terry is insisting on US$20,000,” said Miller.
“Well, let’s just forget it,” Look Loy replied.
The technical committee had anticipated this possibility and already had a second choice in mind. It was Simon McMenemy, who was sacked as Indonesia national coach on 6 November 2019 after just under one year in charge but was highly rated in south-east Asia.
McMenemy, a Scotsman who has never played or coached professionally in Britain, wanted US$10,000 per month with bonuses plus four return tickets per year—for him and his wife and infant son—his choice of accommodation and a car. He also wanted the TTFA to pay half of the fee for any football-related courses that he might take while on the job.
“Okay, okay, Terry will not take anything less than 20,” said Miller, “but I can get him the extra US$2,500 at the end of the month from a sponsor…”
“Fine, you can do that,” said Look Loy. “I don’t care. So long as we are not paying it. What I will put to the board is $17,500…”
On 19 December, Look Loy submitted five names with the technical committee’s recommendation.
“The technical committee strongly recommends Terence Fenwick,” stated Look Loy. “From both the technical and financial standpoint, this is the best option. Fenwick would also be a popular choice among the public.”
Fenwick got the job—but it would not be on terms that were recognisable to the board.
Enter attorney Ravi Rajcoomar SC.
Almost immediately after taking office, Wallace was besieged with requests from creditors. Former TTFA lawyer Anand Misir, as it turned out, was John-Williams’ personal attorney and, supposedly, did ‘not get permission’ to continue representing the local football body. The new president was up the proverbial murky creek without a paddle.
But Fenwick knew someone who could help for free: Rajcoomar.
On 14 December, even before the board decided to hire Fenwick, members voted 11 to 1 in favour of appointing Rajcoomar as legal counsel with immediate effect—‘with the proviso to put his offer in writing on a pro bono basis’.
Rajcoomar confirmed to Wired868 that he ‘appeared as counsel under the Wallace administration in several matters in the High Court and Court of Appeal’. However, he declined to say whether he was also the legal representative for Fenwick and/or Miller.
“Were you representing the Wallace administration or Fenwick/Miller in preparing their contracts,” Wired868 asked Rajcoomar.
Rajcoomar did not reply.
It is uncertain whether Wallace knew the answer to that question either. But what we do know is that Fenwick went to Rajcoomar to draw up his contract; and, by the time it got to the local football president, there were several significant and costly changes:
1. The starting salary went from US$17,500 to US$20,000;
2. Fenwick would get a two year extension for qualifying for the 2021 Gold Cup, achievable with one two-legged result over Guyana or Barbados, while the board wanted a quarterfinal finish to extend his deal;
3. Fenwick would get a salary increase to US$25,000 for his extension while the board capped any pay increase to US$20,000;
4. And, in a total departure from the board’s agreement, Fenwick wanted a motorcar within 30 days of agreeing his contract, with all expenses—including maintenance, insurance and fuel—borne by the TTFA, as well as a mobile phone, laptop, email address, two business class tickets and suitable accommodation whenever required for football business and private medical insurance for his daughter.
The TTFA was also responsible for ‘the payment of all local taxes, national insurance and health surcharge deductions’.
The contract was undated. Wallace remembered that he was in a meeting with a creditor when Ramdhan handed it to him. He claimed to browse through the 11 page document before signing.
“[…] Nothing jumped out at me because the figures I saw there were discussed; but they were discussed as two separate things,” Wallace later told Wired868, in reference to Miller’s offer to raise US$2,500 per month for the Warriors coach.
However, the contract made no mention of anyone but the TTFA being obliged to pay Fenwick, in full.
Wallace said he signed in good faith.
It was, remember, Fenwick and Ramdhan who talked Wallace into running for the presidency in the first place—along with the late ex-TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee—with the assurance that Miller would find the money needed to save the local game.
And Rajcoomar had been assisting Wallace’s administration without asking for a cent in return.
Ramdhan and Wallace later contradicted each other about who signed Fenwick’s contract first, with each saying they felt relatively comfortable to do so because the other had already signed and, presumably, vetted it.
Fenwick’s deal, exclusive of perks, would cost local football US$255,000 (TT$1.7 million) more than agreed to by the TTFA Board.
On 15 January, Look Loy returned to the board to appoint coaches for the remaining national teams. Once more, he gave the technical committee’s recommendations; but not a shortlist.
“How is this a choice when you’re giving me one name rather than two or three; and I can’t even understand how the decision was made?” asked Sancho.
“Well, it is the TTFA Board who appointed the technical committee and gave them the responsibility to vet the applications and make recommendations,” said Wallace. “So if you want to go over the applications again here, then what would be the point?”
Desmond Alfred, the Tobago Football Association (TFA) representative, agreed with Wallace.
“Mr Look Loy has explained the process and it was quite clear,” said Alfred.
Taylor (J) supported Sancho. Phillip backed Look Loy. Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) first vice-president Phillip Fraser agreed with Sancho.
“Names are being proposed without any supporting information until we ask,” said Fraser, the former San Juan North Secondary principal. “I find that the committee should give the board a shortlist with a background for each person.”
Sancho was sore that the technical committee overlooked Taylor (P) for the Men’s National Senior Team job. Look Loy retorted that unlike Fenwick—or so he thought—Sancho’s recommended coaches had wanted plane tickets, houses and vehicles. La Foucade, Look Loy reiterated, was happy with just a flat salary.
As the debate raged, Alfred suggested a vote on whether they should proceed as is, or ask the technical committee to return with a more detailed shortlist. Seven members voted to get on with it while Sancho abstained.
There were five votes for La Foucade as technical director with four abstentions. It is worth noting that there were four United TTFA members at the meeting.
It was in that prickly atmosphere that Taylor (J), a former San Juan North principal, recommended Keith Jeffrey—a former San Juan school coach and the current technical director of San Juan Jabloteh—as Boys’ National Under-15 head coach ahead of the technical committee’s pick of Presentation College (San Fernando) coach Shawn Cooper.
Sancho and Fraser agreed.
And, in a referendum, Jeffrey got five votes, Cooper managed two and there were three abstentions.
News of the Cooper snub was the main public talking point from that board meeting. But it was not the most contentious issue.
Curiously, the minutes included just one line involving Avec Sports: ‘The chairman (Wallace) indicated that they should be getting TT$25,000,000 deal over four years to be announced soon with the company Avec. He indicated that a contract was received on the day before and was forwarded to their attorney to go through’.
It appeared to be a misrepresentation of the discussions around Avec.
The TTFA’s attorney was not going through the Avec deal—it had already been signed. And the board was livid.
“That wasn’t approved by the board!” Taylor (J) exclaimed. “This is the same kind of operation that people criticised under John-Williams!”
Look Loy concurred.
“This is unacceptable!” he said. “I objected to that unilateral approach under John-Williams and I object to it now!”
Wallace’s vice-presidents did not know a final contract was signed. But they did know something was happening with Avec.
“The position of Nike is they want things to quiet down before they do business with us because of the interference from John-Williams and Concacaf,” Wallace told his United TTFA colleagues, during a management meeting. “But we are getting a second clothing deal from a company called Avec, which is a subsidiary of Nike. The deal is worth TT$25 million; and then after about a year, Nike will take over the contract from Avec.
“[…] But any deal is contingent on us keeping info out of the public forum before anything is agreed upon. We know there are people in the board, like Sancho, who are taking copies of everything and leaking it to the media.”
The United TTFA members assumed—or chose to believe—that Wallace had spoken to Avec representatives. Just like they thought he had liaised directly with a representative from the Junior Sammy Group of Companies, before they realised that the letter of support from that company was a hoax.
But, in both cases, Wallace’s point of contact was Miller or his local proxy, Fenwick. And there was no proof that Avec was related to Nike at all—nor was there any provision in the contract that allowed the latter sportswear giants to step in at any stage.
Wallace, apparently, took the word of the two Englishmen.
Look Loy’s technical committee went to work trying to gauge their kit requirements for their pending sponsor.
At one point, Miller phoned him.
“When will the contract be signed?” asked Miller.
“Nothing can be signed unless the board approves it,” said Look Loy. “The president cannot just sign it by himself.”
“What are you talking about?” Miller replied. “Wallace is the president; so why can’t he sign it?!”
In the end, Wallace, to satisfy Miller’s request for secrecy, signed the TTFA to an arguably disadvantageous four-year clothing deal with an unheralded sport apparel company—without so much as feedback from the board, a lawyer or even an independent marketing official.
By then, Wallace effectively had two teams. One was his United TTFA allies that faced the polls with him; the other were the people that gave him the confidence and, he hoped, the financial support to run in the first place: Miller, Fenwick and Ramdhan.
“Mate, why are you listening to the board?” Fenwick allegedly told Wallace. “We are the ones who are bringing the money in. When has Sancho ever gotten a sponsor?!
“Who from the board has brought even a penny to the table?!”
Internally, the disharmony was starting to manifest within the United TTFA.
“Are you seeing Fenwick in a jacket and tie unveiling sponsorships?!” Look Loy growled to Taylor (C). “Like he thinks he is a blasted vice-president! The man doesn’t want to do his football work but he is up and down parading himself.
“The man is showing zero interest in footballing work; he only wants to be in front of the camera!”
In the next management meeting, Wallace was confronted by his colleagues about Fenwick’s apparent influence with TTFA affairs.
Wallace explained that Caribbean Chemicals director Joe Pires personally requested Fenwick’s presence while, in the case of Sports and Games, he was again asked to attend the sponsorship launch since it was attached to the Avec deal negotiated by Miller.
There was another TTFA Media interview with the president when, supposedly, Fenwick simply heard it was going to happen, showed up, and was obliged.
“Alright, alright—I wasn’t seeing that as a problem,” Wallace told his United TTFA comrades. “I will fix it.”
Editor’s Note: In part three, Wired868 will look at the Avec Sport, Ramesh Ramdhan and Peter Miller contracts and the opening cracks in the relationship between the Wallace-led administration and Fifa.