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Tue, Jul

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The following is a press release by ex-England World Cup defender Terry Fenwick, a former Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh football coach, in response to a Trinidad Guardian article on Ma Pau’s Pro League application:

I am aware of an article published in the Trinidad Guardian of Thursday, September 3rd detailing a number of allegations made by an unnamed source at the Ministry of Sport and which contains damaging and erroneous comments attempting to malign my character and to discredit the legitimate application by my sponsors Ma Pau, for funding from the Ministry specific to the cost of underwriting the standard fees for incorporating its youth Football Club into the T&T Pro League.

I totally and completely refute the allegations as false and malicious, with the aim to deny professional opportunity, and to cause personal harm and injury to the members of the Ma Pau team, their sponsors and to myself.

In this regard, I wish to clear the air on the misrepresentation of facts contained in the said article.

In accordance with stipulations outlined by the Ministry in its published funding policy, as head coach to Ma Pau FC, myself and current coach Mr Keon Trim—acting on behalf of the Ma Pau Football Club and its owners and sponsors—entered into open discussions with the Minister of Sport and staff of the Ministry, advising of our intention to apply under the Grant Funding to National Governing Bodies.

The funding is identified “for sport, community groups and individuals in support of their plans, programmes and activities that foster sport development, facilitate athletic performance and engender a spirit of community living.” Our application was specific to attaining the requisite fee for incorporating the Club into the 2015/2016 Pro League season.

We met with the Minister (Brent Sancho) and his Adviser Mr (Kevin) Harrison on July 21st and subsequently met with his Permanent Secretary (Gillian Macintyre) on a number of occasions to facilitate compliance for Grant Funding for Ma Pau FC’s incorporation.

The incorporation was a necessary prerequisite by the owners of Ma Pau and its associated sponsors who have committed to rehabilitating the Morvant Recreational Grounds to be used as home ground for Ma Pau and Caledonia AIA, in addition to serving members of the general public.

The cost for rehabilitation has been estimated at just over TT$8 million and are to be privately funded through sponsorship. The fees for incorporation as documented in communication was identified as TT$450,000.

This information was openly and transparently shared with the Ministry, including schematics of how the grounds were going to look post rehabilitation. It must be made clear that the process for funding approval requires details of plans, as well as evidence of fund-raising or sponsorship, which we provided.

The rules provide for access to such information at least two months prior to commencement of the project. The rules also clearly indicate that the MOS will conduct a site-visit which would have had in this instance, to be hosted by the San Juan/Laventille (SJL) Regional Corporation.

In addition to the project plans and sponsorship commitment, the club’s owners submitted documentation from their bankers to establish they were in good standing, as well as formal approval from the CEO of the SJL Regional Corporation, Mr Kenwyn Pantin, of the Corporation’s permission to use the grounds under the agreed conditions. Our documents support.

Having fully satisfied all the criteria for Grant Funding, Ma Pau FC was then issued a cheque by the Ministry of Sport “through the office of the Permanent Secretary” dated August 8th.

At the same time, a letter of notification also dated August 8th, was sent to the CEO of the Professional Football League, Mr Dexter Skeene, advising of the granting of funds and the Ministry’s support.

On Monday, August 17th, we received a phone call from the office of the Permanent Secretary, asking that we return the cheque and be present for discussions. Myself and Mr Trim met with the PS on that day at 11 am and were advised that there was an administrative error on the part of the Ministry and that the cheque would be cancelled.

Guidance was given that the cheque should have been made under a different agency of the same Ministry and a promise of written correspondence to provide reasons for the cancellation was given.

We received this notification in good faith being mindful that the Point Fortin Civic Centre Football League had already been successfully processed and their grant funding issued for their own incorporation into the Pro League season.

We have had no further communication from the Ministry to date, nor were we at any time advised that there were any discrepancies on our part, nor have we been asked to answer any questions from anyone about improper application for funding.

September 3rd was the first we had any indication that there may have been any problem with our application.

While I am deeply disturbed by the unfortunate attack on my character and the club’s owners and sponsors, my deepest concern is for the well-deserving players who are now without a place to practice and an opportunity to participate in the upcoming season.

I remain hopeful that work can begin on the Morvant Recreational Grounds to provide the community a world-class facility for the continued development of sport.