Court orders First Citizens to release TTFA funds
JUST over two weeks after the High Court issued the TT Football Association's (TTFA) with a garnishee order, the court yesterday gave consent to lawyers representing this country's national Futsal team to receive from TTFA's six frozen accounts at First Citizens Bank, a figure of over $270,000 – about half the sum awarded by the court last December.
The Futsal team was represented yesterday by attorneys Keston McQuilkin and Melissa Keisha Roberts-John. One or both of the attorneys will receive a cheque from First Citizens, from which funds will be distributed to the claimants, comprising 15 former national futsal players and five members of the team's then technical staff.
"It is an indication that the justice system in this country works," said the team's then manager Ronald Brereton following the court matter.
The lawsuit stemmed from an agreement between the futsal team and former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee to pay the national players salaries, stipends and match fees in part for their representation at the Concacaf Futsal Championship, which took place in Costa Rica, in May, 2016.
Current president of the TTFA David John-Williams, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, previously said action against the TTFA by the futsal team was just one of several lawsuits brought about by actions of the previous TTFA administration.
The matter with the Futsal team seemingly neared an end on December 13 last year when the team was awarded a figure of TT$475,743 plus interest at three per cent per annum, along with legal costs, which would now push the total figure closer to $600,000.
Brereton said the TTFA asked for an extension for it to receive a FIFA subvention, but instead used the opportunity to appeal. He believes the association used the opportunity to "buy time" through "deceptive methods", since it did not release funds from a US$600,000 FIFA subvention, which was received by the association.
"The attorneys on behalf of the TTFA (after the ruling) advised that they were getting a FIFA subvention late December, early January (2019), and they asked us for 28 days' stay so they can make the payment. Instead of making the payment, they then filed an appeal. When we learned this, we went to the court and sought a garnishee order on their accounts," Brereton said, adding that their failure to use funds from the subvention made way for new questions regarding the association's spending habits and defiance of court orders.
"I am advised, subject to correction, that the association received some US$600,000 when we gave them 28 days stay. We have not received a cent. And then you turn around and file an appeal. That's how gentlemen operate."
Asked how the legal team will pursue the outstanding sum, Brereton said, "We will be guided by our attorneys. Let us get this out of the way, but we want all of our money."
He added that their decision last December to allow the TTFA 28 days to make the payment was done in "good faith" and that the latest order by the court was not where he wanted the case to reach – to the detriment of the organisation and to football at large.
"The thing about it is, if you are dealing with people who are humane and genuine in their approaches to you, then you can meet halfway and there will be decent room for compromise. But this TTFA does not leave me with any alternative but to fight them," said Brereton.
"It is a matter of deception and deception by the TTFA president, because ask any member of the TTFA board, if they are aware of what is going on in the court, and every man will tell you no."
The bank is expected to receive, perhaps today, a letter directing it to prepare a cheque, from which funds will be distributed amongst the claimants, comprising 15 players and five members of the team's technical staff.
The players are, Cyrano Glen, Colin Joseph, Kerry Joseph, Jameel Neptune, Kevin Graham, Anthony Small, Kevaughn Connell, Keston Guy, Kareem Perry, Noel Williams, Jamel Lewis, Ishmael Daniel, Bevon Bass, Adrian Pirthysingh and Jerwyn Balthazar.
Along with Brereton on the technical staff are, Clayton Morris, Sterling O'Brian, Perry Martin and Brent Elder.