Fri, Jun

Chairman of the Normalisation Committee, Robert Hadad

The FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) has assured its commitment to fulfilling the mandate given to it by the sport’s world governing body- FIFA, in March last year, and has sought the services of Accounting firm Ernest &Young to achieve its goal.

The mandate includes the liquidation of a rising debt that has for many years, crippled T&T’s football. The mandate also requires the normalisation committee to position the T&TFA for fresh elections after two years.

In a response to the TTFA membership that comes almost three weeks after concerns were raised about blatant mismanagement in the sport, Robert Hadad, the chairman of the normalisation committee issued a four-page response that highlighted the state of affairs of the sport presently and the challenges they faced in attempting to achieve their mandate.

On May 1, Hadad was called out for gross mismanagement, ranging from his non-payment of salaries to staff members, players and coaches of the senior national men's team which is scheduled to play World Cup qualifying matches against the Bahamas and St Kitts/Nevis in June, to no audited and compliance committee, no annual general meetings (AGM), no audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2020; increasing debt and poor financial management, and the mismanagement of the World Cup match against Guyana that was played in the Dominican Republic.

However, Hadad said yesterday: “The audited financial statements for years ended December 31, 2017, and 2018 reported that the TTFA’s current liabilities far exceeded its current assets, casting doubt on the TTFA’s ability to continue as a going concern. In the most recent audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2019, dated February 26, 2021, the auditors were not able to provide an opinion since they could not be assured of the TTFA’s ability to satisfy all its debts and to continue as a going concern.

Given the TTFA’s poor financial condition, the NC engaged an independent professional services firm, Ernst & Young Services Limited (EY), to verify the TTFA’s creditors. EY’s report, dated April 9, 2021, revealed total estimated outstanding liabilities and unasserted claims (contingent liabilities) of approximately TT$98.5 million as of February 9, 2021. EY also reported major policy, procedural and control deficiencies within the TTFA’s Purchase to Pay process. EYs work will assist with the formulation of a debt repayment plan as well as inform the remediation requirements necessary to enhance the TTFA’s overall governance and control environment.”

Hadad assured that since financial governance is a cornerstone and an indication of the strength of an organization, pursuant to the audited financial statements, the NC’s review of the organization and EY’s findings, it appears that the Association suffered from weak financial governance and, as a result, has been mismanaged for several years.

“The financial statements, which were ratified at General Meetings over the last decade, suggest that the Association has consistently failed to manage its expenses within approved budgets. The result: mounting debt and the TTFA facing the very real risk of insolvency and liquidation.

Therefore, it is critical that, the TTFA’s financial affairs be managed in a sustainable manner. We cannot repeat what happened at the start of 2020, when the TTFA appointed dozens of coaching and technical staff for its various National Teams and other administrative staff, committing to pay net salaries amounting to just under US$1.0 million; about 100% of the TTFA’s annual FIFA Forward allocation, the TTFA’s only confirmed source of funding. Therefore, funds for other expenses, including airfare and accommodation for tournaments, utilities and insurance, to name a few, were not adequately budgeted,” the report said.

According to the normalisation committee, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has further exacerbated situations, as it dispelled claims it mismanaged the country’s World Cup qualifying matches to be played at home, which including Guyana match on March 25.

“After FIFA lifted the TTFA’s suspension on 19th November 2020, and CONCACAF confirmed the new schedule of the 2021 World Cup Qualifiers on 4th December 2020, the NC held the first of many meetings, with the Sports Company of T&T on 21st December 2020 to develop plans for hosting the Guyana Qualifier in Trinidad and Tobago. However, based on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) response on 19th February 2021, to the TTFA’s proposal, the match had to be played in another territory.

Since then, in preparation for the June 2021 Qualifiers, the Ministry of Health has been engaged in numerous discussions to evaluate the option of hosting those games on home soil. However, given the recent surge in COVID-19 cases, that option is not feasible.”

In the meantime, the committee assured that the country participated at FIFA and CONCACAF tournaments, while the senior women’s team will begin training soon.

The committee is also in the process of forming a Unified League, as League football in T&T has been going through a transitionary period with discussions centred around the development of a national league structure. As such the NC has contacted the FIFA League Development Programme for advice and technical guidance as it designs the unified league structure from grassroots to elite players. The exercise is being led by a Steering Committee which comprises representatives from key stakeholders of league football in T&T.

SOURCE: T&T Guardian