Thu, Oct

Awai: TTFA looking to avoid debt payments by shutting down football.

A business ploy to avoid paying debt is one of two theories arrived at for the decision by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee that manages the T&T Football Association affairs, to omit the value of the land presently housing the controversial Home of Football in Balmain, Couva from the Audited Financial Accounts that was presented at Sunday's virtual Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the organisation.

The decision led to a deferral of discussions on issues of the debt and debt-eradication, as well as approval of the audited financials, which have plagued local football for many years, based on the fact that the TTFA had no deed for the land and could therefore not include it on the audited financials.

At present, approval of the audited financials is needed for the TTFA to receive funding from the sport's world governing body- FIFA.

In July, the NC declared an overall debt of $98.5 million which excluded the amount for the land.

But on Sunday two of the 47 TTFA members - W Connection and the Veteran Football Foundation raised concerns about the current debt and why a title or lease for the land has not been attained by the TTFA to date.

Chairman Robert Hadad deferred discussions on to an EGM to be held 14 days after the AGM, expected to be Sunday, October 10.

However, Michael Awai, a former representative of AC Port-of-Spain and an outspoken stakeholder, theorised two logical reasons why the NC/TTFA could choose to exclude the value of the land which is estimated to be around $42 million.

Awai told Guardian Media Sports on Tuesday said that while he too was confused by the decision, it has led to a stand-off in T&T football that is tantamount to a shutting down of the sport, as there could now be no payment of players, no training to be had, no money to send teams on tournaments and questions of what will happen when the government gives the okay to resume football.

He is advising the NC/TTFA to consult the relevant authorities and get a Certificate of Comfort or a document that will satisfy its auditors and lead to the approval of the financial statement.

According to Awai: "The land was given by the government and it was a tri-partite arrangement, the government gives the land, the FIFA gives the money and the TTFA builds the Home of Football. I am saying that because the HoF got a TTEC and a WASA connection, they accepted some documentation that must be equal to a certificate of title which can be had literally in your hand.

From 2018 to now, what the TTFA should have done was to get a document from either the Commissioner of Valuations or the legal departments because there is documentation from the Cabinet and from the various bodies that connected the HoF, such as TTEC and WASA, so it is just administrative paperwork that has to be done to complete the exercise."

Awai, a former business development manager at AC Port-of Spain before opting to focus on his academy, noted: " Yes, I agree that they don't have a certificate of title but they are things called events after the balance sheet that could be done, so the TTFA could have corrected this problem, because in my view, why have you left out the valuation of the land? Is it because they were sure that the TTFA is insolvent and to whose benefit?

Is it that they don't want to pay people who they owe - $100 million including whoever and whoever, that just does not make any sense. And for you to call an EGM 14 days from now, will that position change?

Somebody has to be held accountable for that because it is a grave error in judgement. To hide behind the fact that you don't have a certificate of a title just does not make any sense.

So the football is being held up because somebody in the NC/TTFA believes that they are about title, but TTEC and WASA didn't believe that because the lease was granted for 100 years at a dollar a year."

Contacted, David John-Williams, the former president of the embattled football association said he would only speak on the issue of the land deed after the 14-day time frame.

John-Williams, when he assumed office in 2015, led his administration in 2018 and 2019 in presenting approved audited accounts to FIFA for the first time since 2008.

Apart from disclosing the $98.5 million debt in July the NC/TTFA also revealed that it acquired the services of Ernst & Young (EY) to assist in its debt-repayment mandate. Its mandate includes - to run the TTFA's daily affairs; to review and amend the TTFA Statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA Statutes and requirements before duly submitting them for approval to the TTFA Congress, and to organise and to conduct elections of a new TTFA Executive Committee for a four-year mandate.