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SELLING the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s (TTFA) most prized asset – the Home of Football (HoF) in Couva – could almost halve its disturbing $98.5 million debt.

The HoF has an estimated value of $42.5 million and is now considered an option for re-sale to assist the association in significantly reducing its hefty bill.

This was confirmed in a statement by the normalisation committee (NC) on Monday which revealed its decision to appoint chartered financial analyst Maria Daniel to manage the TTFA’s debt repayment proposal.

The NC said it notified the supervisor of insolvency of its intent to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act which will enable a structured approach to the restructuring of the TTFA and the preparation of a fair, transparent and acceptable payment proposal to address the debt.

After outlining her detailed itinerary to meet with, review and verify the claims of TTFA’s creditors to then implement a payment proposal, the HoF remains a valuable asset on the bargaining table towards TTFA’s financial recovery.

The statement said an independent third-party valuation will be done to determine the total value of TTFA’s assets as it seeks to reduce its massive debt.

“At this stage, all options are on the table; the sale of the Home of Football is definitely an option,” it read.

An article on Inside World Football on October 8, said the deed for the ownership of the land on which the HoF is built (and which FIFA provided grant aid to build), had not been secured in the name of the TTFA from the government.

But Minister of Sport and Community Development Shamfa Cudjoe on Wednesday cleared the air on the land’s ownership.

“The land is state land which is being leased to TTFA. The lease has not been perfected as yet. The government, as committed, will perfect the lease for the land on which the Home of Football has been built in favour of TTFA. Once perfected the TTFA will be able treat with the asset as they consider appropriate,” Cudjoe said via WhatsApp.

In 2018, then-TTFA president David John-Williams said a US$2.5 million (TT$16.85 million) grant was given to the association to build football’s new home.

The HoF project, he said, was the first fully funded FIFA Forward project — the organisation’s initiative to provide 360-degree, tailor-made support for football development.

The T&T government, however, supplied the TTFA with the 17.5-acre parcel of land on which the facility stands.

With the fraternity’s most prized possession now possibly up for grabs to the highest bidder, Veteran Footballers Foundation president Selby Browne believes it would be a harsh decision to part ways with the association’s most valuable asset.

“I supported John-Williams with the Home of Football because he did it at his own peril. He was abused and labelled for mismanagement but his actions caused the TTFA to have a million-dollar facility, and in reality, the TTFA’s only prized asset more than its 100 years in existence,” Browne said.

Newsday also contacted John-Williams for a comment on the possible sale of the HoF but he respectfully declined to speak on any football-related matters.

Regarding Daniel’s surprise appointment, Browne and United Football Coaches of TT head Jefferson George shared the view that the TTFA’s membership is continually being left in the dark on the NC’s moves to somehow restore the association’s financial competence.

Daniel is also a trustee license-holder under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act  and partner in Transaction Advisory Services of Ernst and Young Services Ltd.

While Browne and George are observing the steps being taken by the NC to begin TTFA’s financial recovery process, the pair of administrators pointed out that this is just the start of an arduous process that would more than likely continue on when the NC’s 24-month reign at the helm of local football comes to an end in March 2022.

The NC was appointed in March last year after TTFA president William Wallace and his executive were removed after a Fifa/Concacaf fact-finding mission revealed, “extremely low overall financial management methods, combined with a massive debt, have resulted in the TTFA facing a very real risk of insolvency and illiquidity.”

They were replaced by the NC, headed by businessman Robert Hadad, and were tasked with four mandates over the 24-month period.

The NC was now responsible for running TTFA’s daily affairs and establishing a debt repayment plan that is implementable by the TTFA.

They were also tasked with reviewing and amending TTFA’s statutes (and other regulations where necessary) and to ensure their compliance with the FIFA statutes and requirements before submitting them for approval to the TTFA congress.

Additionally, to organise and conduct elections of a new TTFA executive committee for a four-year mandate.

Nineteen months on, George said the NC has since only covered FIFA’s first mandate of running the association’s daily affairs. Daniel’s sudden inclusion, he says, maybe a bit tardy on the NC’s part.

“Debt repayment would have been one of the main reasons the NC was appointed in March last year. I know there were drawbacks but it’s very late. Now you are coming out at this point not with a solution to the problem but an action to now begin to address it.

“At this late stage, this action now begins a lengthy process and the NC is supposed to be in charge for just over four more months.

“What happens if the creditors do not accept the settlement? There are a lot of things that we still need to get to the bottom of. Nobody thinks this is an easy situation but that’s the job,” he said.

Daniel’s process includes 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 is developed and approved by the creditors, it will be sanctioned by the courts and the NC will implement the proposal in accordance with its terms.

George and Browne, however, think the TTFA membership should at least have been made aware of the NC’s decision to hire Daniel before its public announcement on Monday.


SOURCE: T&T Newsday