Wed, May


Last week, the Normalisation Committee (NC) of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) announced that it had “notified the Supervisor of Insolvency of its intent to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of Trinidad and Tobago that would enable a structured approach to the restructuring of the TTFA and the preparation of a fair, transparent, and acceptable payment proposal to address the TTFA’s debt.”

The process, according to the NC, would allow the TTFA to manage its operations and provide a stay from all legal proceedings and creditor actions for a period of up to six months, thereby securing the TTFA’s assets while the management and NC work under the oversight of the independent Trustee to develop and present a proposal to address the TTFA’s debt to all creditors.

In other words, the move would ensure the TTFA’s current assets are protected from legal action by individual creditors and that everybody owed by the TTFA would be treated equitably.

Corporate Trinidad and Tobago, which has all but turned its back on local football, would have seen this as a positive development – a structured approach adopted by the administration of football to deal with its debt in a manner that would not cost taxpayers a cent.

The response among football administrators (or stakeholders, as some prefer to be called) was, however, mixed, and in some instances downright hostile.

In an immediate response, Selby Browne, who heads the veteran footballers’ association, said he felt disrespected, and that there should have been prior consultation. He wanted to call a special general meeting to discuss the matter. Why? To discuss what, Mr Browne?

Osmond Downer, Head of the Referees’ Association, and media-ordained football constitution expert pointed out (to Browne and, maybe to the reporter who quoted him) that the NC had the authority, under the TTFA constitution, to do what it did. And by the way Mr Ian Prescott (Express reporter), the TTFA has neither been placed in bankruptcy nor made insolvent, a fact made abundantly clear in the TTFA’s news release. But why let the truth get in the way of a good headline?

Other football stakeholders – let’s call them what they are, Administrators with tabanca – when asked about the move wantonly blamed the NC for the state of Trinidad and Tobago football and challenged its ability to handle TTFA business. Hold on. Are we missing something? Aren’t these the same individuals who have been around for the past umpteen years, overseeing various aspects of local football, while the TTFA was accumulating $100 million in debt.

These same individuals are now demanding that the NC get committees working, restart the pro league, appoint national coaches and technical teams, get our national footballers back into training, and organize international warm-up matches. How? And with what money? It seems idiotic to say it, but… haven’t they noticed that we’re in the middle of a pandemic, that the TTFA is $100 million in debt, and the NC is struggling to keep things afloat on a stipend from FIFA. It’s by no means business as usual.

Moreover, it is you, football gurus, Messrs Wallace, Look Loy, Downer, Browne, John Willams, et al, and your fellow associates (and predecessors), who brought Trinidad and Tobago football to where it is today.

The NC was appointed to save you from yourselves. Its members were nowhere around when the rot that characterized the administration of local football was taking place. Robert Hadad was running a successful business; Nigel Romano, a successful international career in banking; Nicholas Gomez a successful accounting and business consultancy; Judy Daniel a reputable and successful law practice. See the common thread? These people have been put in charge of local football to help... because you couldn’t, and still can’t run it successfully. They aren’t the problem, you are.

The members of the NC all have proven track records of success. Hear this: They are going to find a solution to repay the creditors that you (the former leaders of the TTFA) owe money; they are going to put in place modern systems governance and control to ensure that the administration of football is on a sound and sustainable footing.

These four individuals are all respected in the fields of endeavour, Corporate Trinidad and Tobago trust them. When they (the members of the NC) hand the TTFA back to you, you can be confident that the business community will be far more willing to consider investing in football and it was 20 months ago.

And by the way, none of them is doing it for the stipend FIFA pays them. Rather than attack them, I suggest you try to help them help you. If you can’t, hush, and let them fix the mess you made.

Derek Derron

Fete match guru

St James

SOURCE: T&T Guardian