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Sacked U-23 manager claims victimisation

Sacked national under-23 football team manager Norris Ferguson accused the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) and, in particular, its Interim President Lennox Watson of victimisation after Ferguson and equipment manager Frank Rodriguez were removed from the technical staff on Wednesday.

Rodriguez was part of a slate, headed by FC Santa Rosa President Keith Look Loy, which tried to oust Watson as Eastern Football Association (EFA) president last year after alleging a lack of transparency and democracy in zonal business. Ferguson is the Santa Rosa media and public relations officer.

Look Loy’s movement failed while Watson was promoted to TTFF president after Oliver Camps resigned on October 27 2011. FIFA was investigating Camps at the time for his role in the Mohamed Bin Hammam bribery scandal but discontinued the case after the Trinidadian’s abrupt exit.

“I feel it is victimization,” Ferguson told Wired868. “It is because of my support for Keith because they have never written or told me anything in terms of performance…

“My removal is an indication that there is bad blood between the president and myself.”

Former Trinidad and Tobago national under-23 manager Norris Ferguson

The TTFF announced several changes to its technical staff over the past week including the promotion of assistant coach Anton Corneal to the post of technical director but was silent on Ferguson and Rodriguez. Press officer Shaun Fuentes confirmed Ferguson’s departure but said that the TTFF saw no need for a statement.

“We didn’t think it was necessary,” said Fuentes. “Once the appointment (of new manager William Wallace) is finalized, we will make an announcement.”

William Wallace had discussed his new post with TV6 prior to Fuentes’ assertion last night. However, the press officer declined further comment.

A TTFF source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, suggested Ferguson and Rodriguez were not up to the job and that Ferguson, in particular, was removed for poor performance.

There seemed to be no complaints from national under-23 coach Angus Eve, though. Eve felt it inappropriate to comment on the TTFF decision but declared that he was saddened by his manager’s departure.

 

“I feel for Norris,” said Eve. “I grew an attachment for the guy professionally and as a person and I’m sorry to see him go.”

Last November, Eve and Ferguson steered the Olympic hopefuls through a Caribbean group that included Cuba, Suriname and hosts St Kitts/ Nevis. They play Mexico, Panama and Honduras this March in California but with an altered backroom staff.

Trinidad and Tobago national under-23 coach Angus Eve

Ferguson’s dismissal was a drawn out and, arguably, distasteful affair.

The national under-23 men’s and under-17 women’s squads were treated to a reception hosted by All Sport Promotions on December 28 for their relative successes. The technical staff, according to Ferguson, expected bonuses that were allegedly agreed to before the tour but went home empty handed.

Things got worse for the team manager when, after the TTFF executive committee meeting on January 12, a source called to warn Ferguson that he would be fired. There were more hints of changes afoot from Watson at the Elite coaching symposium on Sunday but, on Tuesday, Ferguson had still heard nothing officially and so reported to a national training session at the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port of Spain along with Rodriguez.

On Wednesday, a TTFF secretary told Ferguson that there was a letter for him. And so, without a meeting or even a phone call from his employers, he was relieved of his duties.

The letter, which was signed by TTFF General Secretary Richard Groden, expressed “profound gratitude” and “warmest appreciation” for his services. His dismissal was explained as follows:

“The Federation, like any other successful business entity, needs to be constantly evaluating its own progress as well as that of its rivals so that it can remain competitive in a rapidly changing environment.

“You will appreciate the fact that as a consequence the Federation has to keep its options open. It is in that context… that the Federation has decided with regret to terminate your appointment…”

The letter went on to ask Ferguson “in the spirit of goodwill” to give Wallace his full cooperation so as to ensure a smooth transition.

Ferguson, a two-time Pro League Manager of the Year with W. Connection, is unimpressed with the TTFF’s behavior, though, and dismissed any suggestion that he was not a credit to the post.

“They just trying to justify their foolishness,” he said. “No one ever addressed me with that so what does that say about their management? And the letter did not say anything about that at all.

“Frank and I got licked up because we supported Keith. That is the truth of the matter.”

 

Tasteless TTFF dismissals

3. Rene Simoes:

Simoes spent six months in limbo and unpaid before the TTFF got around to putting him out of his misery in 2002.

 

2. Bertille St Clair:

St Clair was on the way to a TTFF meeting in 2005 when he switched on his radio and heard an announcement that he had been fired.

 

1. Stuart Charles-Fevrier:

Fevrier figured out that he better start looking for a job when the TTFF appointed Bertille St Clair as its head coach in 2004 without bothering to dismiss the St Lucian first.

AboutLasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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