The Ministry of Sport and the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) seem set to end a two month long financial impasse after a high powered meeting between the two bodies this morning.
Sport Minister Brent Sancho ordered the ministry to halt all funding to the local football body in April, after the TTFA failed to meet a deadline to submit audited accounts.
However, a TTFA press release, which was presented as a ‘joint statement,’ has paved the way for a resumption of funding for the local football body.
“The meeting yielded productive discussions, after which Minister Sancho was presented with draft financial statements for the period 2008-09,” stated the release, “from the TTFA as well as a schedule for the delivery of draft financial statements for the period 2010-2014.
“The discussions were open and frank with a view to determining an approach that would allow the Ministry to fulfil its mandates of effective reporting and monitoring and adherence to all compliance measures required of the state entity.”
Sancho and TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee were not available for comment while Kevin Harrison, the advisor to the Sport Minister, was tightlipped about details.
“(The meeting) was very cordial,” said Kevin Harrison, who is Sancho’s advisor. “I think we have reached common ground on a lot of things. I believe there will be a joint statement next week.”
Notably, the Women’s Professional League (WPL) was on the cards today.
On Monday, Tim Kee, arguably, played a card of his own when he revealed that the TTFA would delay its endorsement of the Women’s Professional League (WPL) until it was satisfied with the Sport Ministry’s plans.
“This isn’t a simple domestic league or a family thing in the back yard,” Tim Kee told Wired868. “I don’t see a problem because anything to do with the upliftment of football, I support it. It is just that things have to be done in a certain way…
“Everything must be predicated in transparency and accountability; and we want to strictly adhere to those processes in everything we do.”
Both parties had something to lose today and, it would appear, the two hands decided to clap.
“Other positive outcomes from the meeting included the upcoming Women’s Premier League (WPL),” stated the release, “and the FIFA Goal project initiative being undertaken by the TTFA. Other footballing matters including the National Teams were also discussed.
“A comprehensive portfolio on the way forward on all issues discussed will be presented to the media on Tuesday 26 May 2015.”
The WPL is the brainchild of the Sport Minister and will eclipse the Women’s League Football (WOLF) as Trinidad and Tobago’s premier domestic women’s football competition.
Sancho initially suggested that the WPL would start in late-May although he since said that mid-June was more likely.
If the Sport Ministry and TTFA declare a truce, it would be a relief for dozens of National Football Team technical member staff members who have not been paid in the interim.
It would also be a welcomed boost to a host of national teams who have competitive action this year in a range of tournaments, including the Russia 2018 World Cup and Rio 2016 Olympic Games qualifying campaigns.
It is uncertain how the news would go down with football fans and stakeholders who were happy to support, in principle, greater transparency from the local football body.
The Sport Ministry is likely to argue that it merely gave the TTFA a stay of execution to get its accounts in order. However, almost three months after the initial deadline between the two bodies, the TTFA still has not provided the relevant accounts or even offered a new completion date.
The two bodies promised to say more next week.