Tue, Nov

Hadad opens up to Lavender deal.

Facing mounting challenges to clear an existing debt that has burdened T&T football for decades, Normalisation Committee chairman, businessman Robert Hadad, has developed an open-door policy in which he has been listening to contractors of the past T&T Football Association (TTFA) administration including UK architectural company, Lavender.

In addition, Hadad has been working with the sport's world governing body, FIFA, and the T&T government to clear a debt that has reached a negotiable figure of $70 million, plus another $30 million in potential contingent liabilities, which according to the local football boss, refers to the outstanding court matters that the embattled football association faces.

In March last year, then TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan revealed that his association had signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the construction of a multi-million-dollar state-of-the-art football, residential and commercial facility over the Arima Velodrome by UK firm Lavender, as part of their $50-million debt-eradication plan.

The deal needed only the go-ahead from Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley and other members of his government, as well as members of the Arima Borough Corporation, before a whopping $12 million dollars were to be deposited into the coffers of the TTFA.

The deal was also communicated to a three-member FIFA/CONCACAF team, here conducting an assessment on the financial affairs of the TTFA at the time. However, Ramdhan and company failed to get the support they wanted from the Arima Borough.

Although the FIFA/CONCACAF team gave a nod of approval for the debt-eradication idea among many other plans by the William Wallace-led administration, designed to repair local football, Ramdhan said, the team still delivered a failing grade on the TTFA's ability to manage the affairs of the sport. 

Hadad and the normalisation committee, over the past months, have been engaged in ongoing talks with the government and corporate citizens, but still have had to go back to a number of contracts under the Wallace administration for much-needed help, saying as a good leader and manager, he was not shutting the doors on anyone:

"So the Lavender deal, I have had conversations with them to understand, like any good leader or good manager, you don't close doors on anybody, but I wanted to understand better what they were bringing to the table. So I would not say I am negotiating with anybody. I am saying I have looked at what they wanted to do and they have some convincing to do. The committee will have a look at what they want to do, providing we cannot get the financing via any other means."

According to Hadad: "What they are providing is like a business proposal when you look at it, where they're going to develop the Arima land by building on it. They've made some pronouncements and announcements about who gave them the land without the relevant authorities even knowing about it.

"So I am saying, I am going to work with the relevant authorities, and if the Minister of Sports gives me a piece of land that I could give to somebody like them where we can have proper contractual arrangements, where they can build a football field or a hospital, or homes for sale, I am listening."

He made clear, however, that should he enter into such an agreement then there must be clauses where he will have overall control to seize everything if the contractors don't do what they're supposed to do.

Apart from the Lavender deal, the normalisation committee has reached a settlement with the TTFA website which was pulled for monies owed. Hadad said the website should be up sooner rather than later but he was happy to have gotten rid of the Avec deal.