CONCERNED: Richard Ferguson, Ascension Invitational tournament organiser.

Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) presidential candidate Richard Ferguson believes that the TTFA normalisation committee (NC) should have considered an alternative to seeking insolvency protection as a means of shielding it from creditors.

“On the eighth of November the normalisation committee would have initiated bankruptcy/slash insolvency proceedings, as per the act,” Ferguson declared. “First of all, bankruptcy is the last resort. It is the worst thing that could happen to a business, an organisation, or a person.”

Further, Ferguson, a chartered accountant with a Master’s degree in business administration, is of the belief that the NC, which is chaired by local businessman Robert Hadad, is taking a high-risk step.

On November 8, the TTFA notified the Office of the Supervisor of Insolvency of “its intent to make a proposal under the Bankruptcy and Insolvency Act of Trinidad and Tobago.”

The NC has appointed 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. The process will include meetings with the submission of claims; a review and verification of the claims; and development of a proposal to deal with the valid outstanding liabilities.

“By making this proposal and initiating the insolvency procedure, they are engaging in high-risk behaviour. Very, very high-risk,” emphasised Ferguson, who stated that the possibility of a receiver being appointed and the TTFA liquidated, looms a real threat.

He is also of the view that the TTFA’s cash flow projection will show that the financially-challenged football association can pay it creditors.

Ferguson, commenting on the latest edition of the Ascension Football show in which he was interviewed by host Kieron Edwards--who serves as both Ascension Invitational director and president of the Eastern Football Association (EFA)—said: “Over the last four years, the TTFA would have (had) revenue of $125 million.

“It is a significant amount when compared to the debt that is being claimed,” adding, “the debt being claimed (is) around $98 million, but I personally don’t believe it (to be) $98’s less than that.”

Ferguson offered no details of the conditions FIFA might have imposed on the TTFA for use of its funding. “I could be wrong. I not inside...I don’t have the facts,” admitted Ferguson, who believes the TTFA debt was likely closer to $50 million.

Given the TTFA’s revenue to debt ratio, he believes the NC could have approached the TTFA’s bankers for a long-term loan to pay off its debts.

Ferguson also saw the NC as operating as a law onto itself, totally disregarding the TTFA membership, leading to speculation since the stakeholders are being left out of the decision-making process. “The membership of TTFA has very little knowledge of what is going on,” Ferguson contended.

“One of the things that is characteristic of the normalisation committee, is that ever since they have been in power, they have not garnished or provided any information to the members,” adding, “They can pay off the debt in five years. Over four years, you had revenue of $125 million.”

Ferguson also argued that TTFA needed to drastically cut its expenditure, like not hiring expensive coaches. The businessman and professional football club owner asserted that while bankruptcy might offer the TTFA some protection, there were disadvantages, including how it could affect the organisations’ creditworthiness.

“It creates a high level of untrustworthiness,” opined Ferguson. “It’s a terrible situation. The normalisation committee was appointed to manage the affairs of the TTFA to avoid bankruptcy.”

SOURCE: T&T Express