Tue, Oct

Chairman of the Normalisation Committee, Robert Hadad

The option of dissolving the T&T Football Association (TTFA) is before Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad and his members, as attempts continue to deal with a debt that has rendered the association insolvent.

The association has been saddled with a $98.5 million debt which minuses the cost for the Home of Football (HOF) in Couva, said to be in the region of $42 million, for which Hadad came under fire at the TTFA's annual general meeting (AGM) on September 26.

In 2020, the sport's world governing body - FIFA, installed Hadad and his team as a replacement for a duly elected United TTFA that was led by William Wallace. That move was made based on a belief that the TTFA was on the brink of insolvency.

Yesterday, however, Hadad in an interview with Guardian Media Sports admitted that the embattled football association is insolvent, but made it clear it was not something they're looking at right now.

Asked if dissolution was an option available to him no, he said: "Absolutely, it is an option, but that is not something we're looking at right now.

"We're looking at other methods of raising the funding and some sort of process to repay that debt, either borrowing or advance that somebody would give us. Or somebody gives us a donation.

"There are many ways to deal with this debt issue, but it's not going to happen overnight, so we need the government involved, we need FIFA involved and we're having active discussions with everyone. Maybe contributions from a third party or multiple third parties, maybe contributions from different places, different sources.

"There is no doubt that we have the Home of Football. The HOF does have a value, and we have the land that the government has promised to lease to the association but that lease needs to be perfected.

"And at the end of the day, it is still a lease, we don't own the land."

The HADCO Group of Companies director on Monday welcomed the government's contribution to sports in its budget, saying apart from embracing the return of international sports in the new year, he now needs to talk to the Minister of Sports and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe as a means of clearing the existing debt.

"I would love to have a meeting with the minister so that we could talk about where football is going because we still have our debt and we still have to address the debt repayment and we need government's intervention in that and the support of the Sports Company (SporTT) and the Ministry of Sports.

"We need clearer pictures of where we're going with it, we definitely going to need to do that as soon as possible.

We're going to need government support also if we're going to return to some sort of League format. We've been doing some work on a unified league with a Division one and two and we're still in the process of making presentations to stakeholders, but we're again going to need the government's support, as they have done in the past because the teams are going to need some sponsorship from corporate Trinidad."

The process for the start of the proposed unified league is said to be near completion, Hadad said.

Following a presentation of the League by FIFA, the NC chairman said he has already given it his stamp of approval to the idea and it is now before his committee members to do the same. He explained that once approval is given by his members, the proposal of the league will be sent to the membership to sign off on.

Meanwhile, Hadad faces mounting pressure to offer explanations on questions from the membership on the financial state of the TTFA and to say why the cost of the land that houses the Home of Football was left off the audited financial statement.

Hadad at the AGM, deferred those questions to an Emergency General Meeting (EGM) to be held 14 days after that AGM on September 26 which is on Sunday (October 10). And quizzed on an update ahead of the EGM, Hadad said: "All the questions the stakeholders have asked about the financial statement have been forwarded to the auditors, and the auditors will now have to address those issues with the stakeholders.

"From where I sit, I would like to make just one statement, an audit is an independent view of a financial statement, it's not the view of the normalisation committee.

"So the auditors will be the only people to answer why they qualify or rather refuse to give an opinion on the financial statement. They would have to answer that. From where I sit, I can tell you we definitely have a solvency issue. The TTFA is insolvent, we do not have the cash flow to pay our debts and that's evident by the fact that you're seeing and hearing about so many court actions for how many years now.

"So we need to have cash flow and we need to address our debt-repayment issue."

SOURCE: T&T Guardian