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Tim Kee sacks Sheldon; TTFA general secretary pays price for Guardian gaffe

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee has sacked his general secretary, Sheldon Phillips, just six weeks before the TTFA presidential elections.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president Raymond Tim Kee (right) and general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy Wired868)

Tim Kee confirmed Phillips’ termination today, via press release, for: “failure to adhere to directives regarding the operational activities of the FA.”

The TTFA president, who is also the Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer, revealed that he asked his general secretary to resign on Monday evening and chose to sack him after he refused to do so.

“The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association wishes to advise that Mr Sheldon Phillips no longer holds the position of General Secretary of the organisation,” stated the TTFA release. “This was a decision taken by the President of the TTFA, Mr Raymond Tim Kee, following the issuing of a letter to Phillips requesting his resignation on Monday evening.

“Mr Phillips subsequently refused the request following which his services were terminated by the President with immediate effect.”

Insiders told Wired868 that Phillips paid the ultimate price for an interview with the Trinidad Guardian, which was published on Sunday October 18 and claimed that Tim Kee’s presidential campaign had the “full support” of the TTFA executive committee.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association vice president Lennox Watson insisted that he does not support president Raymond Tim Kee. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Football Association vice president Lennox Watson insisted that he does not support president Raymond Tim Kee.
(Courtesy Wired868)

The Guardian story prompted a furious response from all three TTFA vice-presidents who said they supported anyone but Tim Kee.

Phillips, who is the son of ex-Trinidad and Tobago international standout and technical director Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips, claimed he was misquoted and reporter Walter Alibey and assistant sport editor Rachel King appeared to concede as much. The Guardian offered a retraction on its print edition yesterday. But it did not save Phillips, who was asked to quit and then sacked.

Tim Kee suggested that the search has already begun for a new general secretary, although any new appointment can be short-lived, as the TTFA will decide on a new president on 29 November 2015.

Thus far, Tim Kee, W Connection president and CEO David John-Williams and former World Cup referee and businessman Ramesh Ramdhan are believed to be the three presidential nominees. The deadline for nomination is midnight on Tuesday October 20.

“The TTFA has commenced a search for a new General Secretary and remains committed to exploring and evaluating possibilities and opportunities,” stated the TTFA release, “that will put the TTFA on a trajectory for growth and continued development.
“The TTFA thanks Mr Phillips for his duties dating back to 2013 and wishes him well in his future endeavours.”

Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Former Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) general secretary Sheldon Phillips.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

Tim Kee unveiled Phillips as his general secretary and the de fact CEO of the football body on 9 May 2013. The then 47-year-old US-based administrator succeeded Richard Groden, whose name was synonymous with the 2006 World Cup bonus dispute and entangled with the financial gymnastics of the Jack Warner era at the turn of the century.

“I will do everything in my power and ability to help lead this organisation with grace and dignity,” said Phillips, at his appointment, “never forgetting our role and obligation to serve as stewards of a game we cherish; for a nation we love.”

Phillips was felt to be instrumental in the hiring of current men’s and women’s senior team coaches, Stephen Hart and Randy Waldrum, who quickly ingratiated themselves to their respective squads and the local football public.

However, in both cases, Phillips courted the respective coaches without the knowledge of the TTFA executive committee and the vice-president, Rudy Thomas, in charge of appointments. While the displaced coaches, Jamaal Shabazz and Marlon Charles, also complained about perceived discourtesy after learning of the decisions through the media.

Hart’s success at the July 2013 CONCACAF Gold Cup tempered criticisms but Phillips did not fare as well when, in October 2013, the public found out that only a quarter of their funds raised for ailing Hungary-based football Akeem Adams—through a Native Spirit tee-shirt venture—would go to the player.

A TTFA release, authorised by Phillips, had instructed the public that: “The T Shirts will be sold at a cost of TT$100 with all proceeds going towards the “Heart of a Warrior” fund.

Photo: Ferencvaros paid glowing tributes to Akeem Adams although the Trinidadian only represented the club for a month and a half.
Photo: Ferencvaros paid glowing tributes to Akeem Adams although the Trinidadian only represented the club for a month and a half.

Phillips initially refused to apologise for misleading the public, after Wired868 revealed that only TT$25 from each tee-shirt—or TT$50,000 from the TT$200,000 raised—went to Adams, who was fighting for his life after a massive heart attack.

“We were in the middle of ramping up for the (New Zealand) game and we felt we would address the issue after the match and analyse it in more detail then,” Phillips told Wired868. “Hindsight is 20/20… We are not in the tee-shirt business. This was a Native Spirit initiative…

“People may see that as making excuses but that is the reality.”

But the administrative bungles and disinclination to acknowledge them continued apace.

Two months later, the TTFA failed to respond to a United States Major League Soccer (MLS) request, via the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), to send their best players to a Miami combine to be scouted.

Pro League CEO Dexter Skeene and Super League director Anthony Harford both denied Phillips’ claim that he asked them—against the specific guidelines of the request—to forward the necessary information.

Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I was a bit concerned when I saw Stefano (Rijssel) selected and people from other parts of the Caribbean but nobody from Trinidad,” Connection president David John Williams told Wired868, at the time. “I was surprised and disappointed by that. The Surinamese Football Association contacted me and I responded appropriately but I was never informed about anything else to do with the Combine.”

Remarkably, Phillips did an encore a year later when he allowed the MLS request to linger on his desk for days before passing the responsibility on to the various local football bodies through an email, just an hour before the deadline.

More serious was the suspension of FIFA funding (twice) due to the TTFA’s accounting and administrative shortcomings, an inability to raise necessary funds from the public or private sector, the failure to send Trinidad and Tobago National Under-15 boys’ teams to successive CONCACAF tournaments, threatened strikes by the men’s Senior and Under-23 Teams and the women’s Senior Team, calamitous or cancelled camps for various national teams and complaints of discourtesy by players and staff members, including former technical director Anton Corneal.

Phillips was even fingered for the non-appointments of referees for a league assignment and accused of faking a congratulatory message from senior women’s player Tasha St Louis, which praised the work of the TTFA.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women's Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania. (Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Tasha St Louis (right) keeps the ball away from Costa Rica midfielder Katherine Alvarado during the 2014 CONCACAF Women’s Championship semifinals in Chester, Pennsylvania.
(Copyright Mitchell Leff/AFP 2014)

But Phillips’ biggest hits followed his role in the June 2014 international friendly away to Argentina and the women’s pre-tournament camp in the build up to the 2014 CONCACAF Championship.

Phillips used the email address for his supposedly defunct match agency company, Element Agency + Events, to arrange business related to Trinidad and Tobago’s exhibition match in Buenos Aires and was forced to deny suggestions that he was privately profiting from “Soca Warriors” matches.

“I have a glitch in my email where sometimes emails that go out go out with my Element address,” Phillips told Wired868. “I’ve tried to fix it and even disabled the address but emails still go out. I have to get that fixed.

“Element has never been a part of anything since I got involved in the TTFA.”

Phillips and then TTFA marketing official Darren Millien were accused of costing taxpayers an additional TT$1.2 million for the Argentina excursion after the disappearance of TT$400,000—allegedly for a TTFA licensing fee—led to the Ministry of Tourism losing its booking for a chartered aircraft.

Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014. Argentina won 3-0. (Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)
Photo: Argentina captain and superstar Lionel Messi (centre) dribbles between Trinidad and Tobago players Lester Peltier (far left), Andre Boucaud (far right) and Carlyle Mitchell during an international friendly in Buenos Aires on 4 June 2014.
Argentina won 3-0.
(Copyright AFP 2014/Daniel Garcia)

Tour operators, Nissi Tours, also accused Phillips of attempting to sell Argentina/T&T match tickets to local fans at US$65, which was roughly four times the actual price.

The “Women Soca Warriors” case got more worldwide attention as Phillips sent the team to the United States for a pre-tournament camp on 7 October 2014 with just US$500 that was provided by a parent and staff member.

The following morning, at just after 9 am, Waldrum sent out an infamous tweet that caught the attention of the world:

I need HELP!” tweeted Waldrum. “T&T sent a team here last night with $500 total. No equipment such as balls, no transportation from airport to hotel, nothing…

“I don’t know how I’m going to feed these players starting at lunch today! If you know of anyone in Dallas area that will help with food, etc.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national women's team coach Randy Waldrum's infamous tweet.
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national women’s team coach Randy Waldrum’s infamous tweet.

For every incident, Tim Kee gave unstinting support to Phillips. And, even when the football president gave some of Phillips’ duties to team administrator William Wallace, the general secretary continued to receive compensation of roughly TT$24,000 a month salary with TT$21,000 housing plus a company vehicle.

On 21 July 2015, Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis was incensed to learn, through Wired868, that the National Under-23 Team had threatened to boycott a Toronto 2015 Pan American Games fixture against Mexico later that day.

He accused Phillips of a lack of courtesy and respect towards the TTOC, since all teams at the Pan Am tournament fell under the local olympic committee.

Not for the first time, Phillips refused to apologise or acknowledge that he erred.

“He continues to defend the indefensible,” Lewis told Wired868. “You have a situation where a TTOC team is threatening to withdraw and he says it is an internal matter. That is not what the TTOC is accustomed to and it is disrespectful and discourteous…

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto. (Courtesy TTOC)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Olympic Committee (TTOC) president Brian Lewis (left) with a delegate at the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.
(Courtesy TTOC)

“It is disappointing to see them act in this way given the relationship that the TTOC has always had with the TTFA.”

Again, Tim Kee did not discipline Phillips then.

But Tim Kee apparently considered the Guardian gaffe, which exposed him to a furious response from his vice-presidents just hours after he announced his intention to seek a fresh mandate as president, as inexcusable and the final straw.

Ironically, according to the Guardian themselves, the error that finally cost Phillips his job might have belonged to someone else.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 15 years experience at several local and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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74 comments

  1. I have no idea why there is so much discussion re Tim Kee’s authority to fire Sheldon Phillips. If we read the Constitution it clearly outlines Tim Kee’s role as President and The Powers of the Board of Directors…….
    Article 36 says…”THE BOARD SHALL “APPOINT OR DISMISS” THE GENERAL SECRETARY ON THE PROPOSAL OF THE PRESIDENT.”. The effective word being “PROPOSAL”. Propose is not to enact.it simply means…put forward for consideration.
    ARTICLE 39 -.PRESIDENT (3)…”.ONLY THE PRESIDENT MAY “PROPOSE” THE APPOINTMENT OR DISMISSAL OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY.
    36 Above clearly say that the Board has the authority to “appoint or dismiss” on the proposal of the Presidedt…39 Above states the President makes the proposal to appoint or dismiss
    NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT TIM KEE HAS THE “POWER TO DISMISS”……..CASE CLOSED.

  2. Lasana Liburd, respectfully, with regards to the missing money…..was it not Atiba Charles who last had the money?

    • Depends on how you look at it. He is the last person who acknowledged that he had the money. But that isn’t the same thing.

      • Bakes

        Again, playing loose with the facts. It has nothing to do with a subjective acknowledgement of who had the money… if you trace the money the trail ends with Atiba Charles. The money was paid from the TTFA account to the account of Nissi Tours… Charles don’t have to “acknowledge” what is objectively provable. You alone know why you continue to cover for him. Who else besides Charles have proof that anybody in a black Mercedez show up in a car park. Nobody. yet he and you would shift the burden of proof from him (to prove that the incident happened the way he said it did) onto the TTFA to prove that it DID NOT happen as Charles said. It’s a farcical position to take, something straight from your “Live Wire” annals.

        • Lasana Liburd

          So farcical that the TTFA president axed Darren Millien and demoted Sheldon Phillips at the time.

          • Bakes

            As is his wont, Tim Kee did what was ‘politically’ expedient where it concerned Millien, no different than he’s doing now with Phillips. Speaking of Phillips… I must have missed when he was “demoted” because he served in the same position from day one… a fact you yourself “farcically” harp on in the article.

        • Lasana Liburd

          He had part of his portfolio taken away. As you already know.

    • Tossing it in a car? What kinda dunce operates like that?

      • Scotty Ranking

        Might have been a naive move on Atiba Charles’ part, I concede. But note that “Half-Millien” has vanished from the scene, as has the money and follow-ups on the matter from the TTFA. And in this day and age where every perceived slight is ventilated via the media and the courtrooms, it is noteworthy that no pre-action protocol letters have passed promising defamation action over the allegations nor has the TTFA reacted in any reasonable fashion in trying to recover the missing monies since the story broke.

        • Bakes

          Engaging a handwriting expert who proved that the signatures on the receipts not only didn’t match each other (meaning they were signed by two different people) and turning over all relevant information to the TTPS is not reacting “in any reasonable fashion”? What else yuh want them to do… pray tell?

          • Lasana Liburd

            Don’t forget that Tim Kee had Sheldon Phillips and Darren Millien run an investigation into a matter that involved them both.
            So they made the report and gave the police what they felt was relevant to their report. What could go wrong there?

          • Scotty Ranking

            The TTFA is a perennially cash-strapped body, always begging for and in need of funds. Nearly half a million dollars is presently unaccounted for and is alleged to have disappeared in highly suspicious circumstances. What is the status of the TTFA “investigation” thereafter? An investigation, mind you, being performed by two persons whose involvement in the allegation should have precluded them from being a part of any investigative team to begin with? Is that how any ‘serious business’, hoping to attract government and corporate funding, transparently and prudently conducts its affairs?

          • Bakes

            Darren Milien was party to the investigation of the missing funds only to the extent that he cooperated in showing the trail ending at Charles. Milien played no part in investigating Charles’ absurd claims. That was done by Phillips (who wasn’t implicated… other than by you trying hard to tie him to it) and a handwriting expert who has worked with the FBI in the US.

            You keep trying hard to tie Phillips to the missing funds, when his only tie is hiring the man (Milien) who allegedly get yuh duncey head friend (who really must be some kinda smart man on the low) to toss cash into his car. In fact you’ve exerted greater effort trying to tie Phillips’ name to the missing funds than you have tying Charles name to it. In fact you seem to go out of your way to even mention Charles’ name whenever the issue of the missing funds come up.

            Doh worry… I know, yuh see de WhatsApp messages… *eyeroll*

    • Well, there was a long chat about that already. But I don’t think that Argentina business is done yet.

    • I know that there was a long chat. I just find it funny you dumping all on Phillips and giving Atiba a Bligh. He appears culpable

  3. No matter how often you shuffle that pack, you are still going to get Jokers…

  4. Football administration in Trinidad and Tobago is the most exciting Telenovela ever made…who stay,who’s coming,who’s leaving,who’s who!!!

  5. In fairness, they are trying to get audited.

  6. Note that propose the appointment and appointing are two completely different things

  7. Kendall Tull, this is a quote from the new constitution:
    Article 39 President

    1 The President represents TTFA legally.

    2 He is primarily responsible for:
    a) implementing the decisions passed by the General Meeting and the Board of Directors through the General Secretariat;
    b) ensuring the effective functioning of the bodies of TTFA in order that they achieve the objectives described in this Constitution;
    c) supervising the work of the General Secretariat;
    d) relations between TTFA and its Members, FIFA, CONCACAF, CFU, political bodies and other organisations.

    3 Only the President may propose the appointment or dismissal of the General Secretary.

  8. That is a lot of drama. The money from the Akeem fund was a really low blow, the word ‘despicable’ comes to mind. Who is responsible for auditing the TTFA?

    • They haven’t been audited in years.

      • Bakes

        Nonsense! They were audited just last year, with reports produced up to 2010 or 2011. I don’t know what it is you get out of deliberately misleading the public on this issue.

        • Lasana Liburd

          You’re hilarious. “Up to 2010 or 2011?”
          Go check the calendar and see what year we are in.

          • Bakes

            I am fully aware of what year we are in, the fact is that audits were conducted last year. They were brought current up a certain point, which despite what I stated, I actually believe it was up to 2012. Audits were begun but not completed for 2012-14. So either way you cut it it’s incorrect to say “they haven’t been audited in years,” especially while audits are on-going.

        • Lasana Liburd

          Something is either done or it isn’t. They have no audited accounts for around four years. Whatever you claim is being done is of no interest to anyone.
          But I know you have a lot of time on your hands after Tim Kee’s decision so I expect that I will have a lot more of you to deal with here.

          • Bakes

            Right because when rain falls it’s proper to keep saying “it hasn’t rained in years”… until the rain stop falling. I have been here selectively commenting all along, just as I’ve been commenting on FB and on SWO all these years. But it serves your agenda to (yet again) foolishly insinuate that I am Sheldon Phillips. It would be funny if not for the naked desperation to deflect whenever you’re found out.

        • Lasana Liburd

          Whatever you chose to do in the rain is your business. But when you have to hand in audited statements by a certain time and you are supposedly still auditing, what happens then?
          Well, what happened is FIFA froze its funding to the TTFA.
          In your world, you can say we are doing it and that is same thing as the thing is done.
          And that is why you are here commenting and not running Trinidad and Tobago’s football.

          • Bakes

            Kinda hard to “[run] Trinidad and Tobago’s football” from the US… as my IP address will show. But then again, you already know that your accusations are nonsense, just as half the accusations you bandy about on your website. And you wonder why even the mainstream press refers to your site as a “satirical blog” (lol!) and not a news outlet.

            Keep on with yuh satire boss, I eh mad lol

  9. The executive committee cannot remove the general secretary but it can remove the president. But will have to look at new constitution to see if it addresses this.

  10. Then the constitution is a nonsense to give one person that kind of unilateral power.

  11. Yes, the general secretary always falls within the purview of the TTFA president. I doubt the new constitution suggests differently. But I do have to post that soon.

    • I have no idea why there is so much discussion re Tim Kee’s authority to fire Sheldon Phillips. If we read the Constitution it clearly outlines Tim Kee’s role as President and The Powers of the Board of Directors…….
      Article 36 says…”THE BOARD SHALL “APPOINT OR DISMISS” THE GENERAL SECRETARY ON THE PROPOSAL OF THE PRESIDENT.”. The effective word being “PROPOSAL”. Propose is not to enact.it simply means…put forward for consideration.
      ARTICLE 39 -.PRESIDENT (3)…”.ONLY THE PRESIDENT MAY “PROPOSE” THE APPOINTMENT OR DISMISSAL OF THE GENERAL SECRETARY.
      36 Above clearly say that the Board has the authority to “appoint or dismiss” on the proposal of the Presidedt…39 Above states the President makes the proposal to appoint or dismiss
      NOWHERE DOES IT SAY THAT TIM KEE HAS THE “POWER TO DISMISS”……..CASE CLOSED.

  12. Does the President of the TTFA have the power to unilaterally hire and fire? If so, what’s the point of having an Executive Committee?

  13. Kamla, Boxu, Suruj, TTCB, WICB, Heera, Jawala and Williams

  14. Yes he needs to go as well all of them

  15. Don’t misinterpret this as a move to improve football La Horquetta Xf. This looks more like internal politics to me.

    • Scotty Ranking

      I’d have to concur. It looked unlikely, even without the Guardian story, that Tim Keekeekee would be able to return as president if he persevered with Fullups as his general secretary. this was an pportunity to jettison his unwanted cargo. And, irony of irnoies, his dismissal was based more on what Fillups didn’t say.

  16. I just said that on Mark Anthony Scott status…hahaha! We wait for all the exposés now

  17. Ferguson from the East Zone has to go also a bag of con men Jack still in this football swear,

  18. I used Google Translate on the following phrase:
    “failure to adhere to directives regarding the operational activities of the FA.”

    and I got “he make meh look bad”

  19. Good Lord. Dem as bad as the politicians.

    • Hmmm. Now you have me wondering who is worse.

    • Hmmm. That so tough we have to get some UWI doctahs to grapple wid dat. How come T&T leads per crapita in dis kinda ting though. Is it the water? Too many Caribs? Too many duck limes? Too much doubles? The hot wool suits in a steamy climate that has been known to produce woolly thinking? Too much chemicals being sprayed on food? The existence of the Hyatt ? Too few roads to give any 4×4 a decent workout? Hmmm.

  20. Tim Kee you have to fire yourself now

  21. What lol stueppp you know how long Tim Kee no that please

  22. Is there a special irony that Guardian misquoted the man and cost him his job? Who shall we ask Guardian to misquote next? Lol.
    (Just teasing Guardian… Just teasing!)

  23. …Good people don’t want to get involved, I think. And yes. The GS serves at the pleasure of the president…

  24. does the TTFA constitution (ha ha ha, look, i cracked a funny) allow for the president to terminate these contracts?

  25. Are there no competent administrators willing to put themselves forward to manage football’s affairs/ Because looking at the line-up thus far I’m not entirely sure we’re not going to get six of 1/half dozen of the other

  26. I assume Tim Kee will also fire himself for his blatant corruption at the helm of TTFA.

  27. Same old folks just different day ,month or year they have destroyed TNT football will dishonest acts

  28. bobol and ttfa go hand in hand. bloody parlour operation…steups

  29. Bakes

    Anybody who thinks this is because of the Guardian article, I have a bridge and nice swamp land to sell them. Tim Kee’s doing what he thinks is politically expedient, just disappointing to see the depths of desperation he’s willing to plumb… needlessly. People (including some prominently quoted in the article) have been whispering in his ear, convincing him that this was necessary in order to secure their support. Some have never grown accustomed to this “Yankee” coming back to Trinidad and trying to act like he in charge. But never mind, no good deed goes unpunished as the saying goes, so Phillips just has to move on to the next act God has in store for him, the stakeholders in TnT will soon find another ex-pat to focus their ire on, Tim Kee, if he survives this will soon appoint another point person to conveniently serve as scapegoat, and the band will play on.

    Incidentally, the TTFA might want to resolve this on as amicable terms as possible, because as it stands right now they are in breach of Phillips’ contract. Lord knows the line of creditors done long as is, and FIFA is reportedly none too happy at this latest development.

  30. …The cookie continues to crumble. Football is in dire need of salvation. Who we go put? Only smooth talkers on the horizon…