Wed, Dec

Michael Awai - General Council member of the TTFA

Michael Awai, an official of the AC Port-of-Spain, says the move by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee (NC) of the T&T Football Association (TTFA) to appoint Maria Daniel, a Licensed Trustee, to manage the debt proposal process which will be guided by the rules of the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act, Chapter 9:70, is a good one.

According to the TTFA release on Monday and an Ernst & Young report, dated April 9, 2021, which put the TTFA’s total outstanding liabilities and unasserted claims (contingent liabilities) at approximately TT$98.5 million.

The release outlined the process which will include meetings with and the submission of claims (and supporting documents) by all creditors; a review and verification of the claims; and the development of a proposal to deal with the valid outstanding liabilities.

Once the proposal has been developed and approved by the creditors, it will be sanctioned by the Courts and the NC, headed by chairman Robert Hadad, will proceed to implement the proposal following its terms.

During the development of the proposal and its implementation, the NC’s day-to-day management of the TTFA will be unaffected.

Commenting on Daniel’s appointment, Awai told Guardian Media Sports that Daniel will be coming in as the receiver officially so that she will go through with the creditors the contingent liabilities and determine the real balances owed by the TTFA and the ones that are in doubt and come to a decision by taking it to the Court and get a ruling from the Court to establish what is the true balance owed by the TTFA.

He added, “I think it is very strategic because they (NC) don’t seem to have a plan as yet or maybe they do have one and they are not sharing it on how they are going to repay TT$98.5 million."

Awai said the process of hiring a Trustee was always open to the NC and all involved would have known about it and as they were then trying to get the support of the membership.

He said: "Because you can understand that if the accounts were not passed they would not have gotten any money to continue paying people salaries, coaches and people in the administration and so on, and I think that was key to the accounts being passed.”

Questioned as to whether the total value of TTFA’s asset which includes the Home of Football (HoF) and acres of land valued at approximately $75 million could be used to settle with its creditors to which Hadad said an independent third-party valuation is to be conducted to determine that figure and at this stage, all options are on the table including the sale of the HoF.

Awai said the plans being put forward by the NC seems a sort of sell or lease and buy back, or sell and lease situation when it comes to the HoF.

He added, “I think they (NC) like to talk the worse things and then they give you what the real thing is. They are very strategic in their information and the time of their releases and I am not at all excited nor scared about what they are doing, but I think they are on the right path. They have taken their time and I think the move has kicked the can down the road for another six months in order where they can get more information via the court who will establish all the balances that need to be established."

He continued: “And I think in six months they will come to the end of the tenure of the NC and they may have an extension so they can regularise and identify and deal with the balances through the court by the TTFA and secondly by the time they should have in place a plan to deal with the repayment of the debt."

However, Awai was upbeat that the HoF would remain under the ownership of the local federation saying, “I don’t believe, however, that we will sell the HoF as I don’t think it is theirs to sell because it is not a private sector business. It’s an organisation and I don’t believe the government will allow them to sell it to be quite frank."

He said having been in charge of football for close to two years now the generating of funds by the NC to help the financially strained body is all down to timing more than anything else.

He explained: “They are trying to deal with the thing that will bury the TTFA, they are trying to establish the debt and when that is done the money that will come or the funding of US$1.5 million per annum from the FIFA they will be able to use that to help the national teams without having to be scared about anybody who may be taking the money in the bank when the money goes to the bank, particularly the people who have the executions over the judgment debt.

"After that is done the whole question of the HoF will allow the TTFA to breathe a little easier at least for six months to be able to finance the national teams going forward, and once they put a plan in place I believe only then that the businessmen will start to listen to the TTFA via Robert Hadad.

"It’s purely a matter of timing and so long as the timing is alright and it is synchronized properly, I believe it’s a whole national effort to get the football going forward."

However, Awai warned that if the NC was to shut down the TTFA and start a new one in 2022 he doesn’t think anyone will deal with them.

He said: “So in the next six months, I think they can bring in a marketing person to deal with not so much so of trying to pay the debt but to see how they can promote and market the HoF and there is a space just west of the stadium where they have concerts and parties and I think that is where they might be looking to see as part of the arrangement on how they can develop a sort of funding for football in general.”

SOURCE: T&T Guardian