New Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams should announce an interim general secretary before the end of this week, as the local football body has found itself handicapped by a debatable, existing arrangement between ex-president Raymond Tim Kee and his estranged former general secretary, Sheldon Phillips.
Phillips, according to TTFA sources, has informed John-Williams that he still has a valid contract which has another two years to run.
The suggestion from the controversial general secretary is that, although he serves at the whim of the football president, Tim Kee somehow gave him a contract for longer than his own term in office.
And, despite being dismissed almost two months ago, Phillips still allegedly wants his contract to be honoured or to be paid off by the TTFA.
Phillips, the son of former TTFA technical director and star goalkeeper Lincoln “Tiger” Phillips, received a salary of roughly TT$24,000 a month plus a monthly housing allowance of TT$21,000 and a company vehicle.
John-Williams declined comment on the matter but admitted that an unresolved issue with Phillips had delayed his appointment of a general secretary.
“We are thinking about appointing somebody temporary (for the post of general secretary) between now and Friday,” John-Williams told Wired868, “because the matter has not been resolved with the former General Secretary.
“There is some confusion but it is very delicate. Right now, it remains a private matter between the general secretary and the TTFA.”
Phillips confirmed that he had what he considered a valid and existing contract as TTFA general secretary. He refused to comment further.
“I am just dealing with the new administration to work things out,” said Phillips. “We are in the process of resolving the transition. Until that matter clears up, hopefully sometime this week, I won’t be making any comment.”
The TTFA has operated without a general secretary, who is effectively the CEO of the organisation, since Tuesday 20 October 2015 when Tim Kee sacked Phillips for his: “failure to adhere to directives regarding the operational activities of the FA.”
The legality of Tim Kee’s decision was immediately questioned by the TTFA executive committee.
“He has the authority to propose the appointment and dismissal of the general secretary,” an executive committee member told Wired868, on the condition of anonymity, “but he cannot fire anybody. That is the prerogative of the executive committee.”
Tim Kee refused to back down on the grounds that the old TTFA constitution did not specifically address how a general secretary could be dismissed but only how one could be hired.
Article 13.3 of the old constitution stated: “The General Secretary shall be appointed by the Executive Committee on the recommendation of the President.”
But, three months before Phillips’ dismissal, the updated and existing TTFA constitution stated, in article 36 (f), that: “The Board of Directors (previously known as the TTFA Executive Committee) shall appoint or dismiss the General Secretary on the proposal of the President.”
And, since Tim Kee never consulted the TTFA’s directors before sacking Phillips, the directors and Phillips himself argued that it was an illegitimate decision.
However, conversely, a former TTFA executive committee member suggested that, by virtue of the same clauses in the new and old constitutions, Phillips’ contract might have been illegal.
The TTFA executive agreed to Phillips’ appointment in May 2013 but never saw his contract. Tim Kee’s term of president should have ended in November 2014 but, bizarrely, Phillips apparently had a contract that ran until April 2015.
And, even stranger, Phillips claimed that, at an unspecified time this year, Tim Kee gave him a two year extension, although his own presidential term in office had just months to run.
Phillips’ claim has not been supported so far by the TTFA’s office staff, who had never heard about his supposed new contract and did not have a copy of it.
“The executive committee never saw or approved that contract,” ex-TTFA vice-president Rudolph Thomas told Wired868. “We approved (Phillips) as the general secretary when the president proposed him in 2013 but we never saw the terms of the contract. And (Tim Kee) never proposed an extension to us…
“His contract cannot go longer than the president’s. His job is at the prerogative of the president, so a president cannot sign a contract (for his general secretary) for longer than he is president. That is simple logic…
“You hold office on the behest of the president. So when the president goes out of office, you obviously go out of office as well. (But) since the beginning of Raymond’s term, he doing dotishness…”
Thomas, who stepped down as Southern Football Association (SFA) president last month and was replaced by Richard Quan Chan, took a parting shot at Tim Kee for boasting about pushing for a new TTFA constitution.
“The erstwhile (former TTFA) president is always going on about how he proposed a new constitution,” said Thomas. “He didn’t propose anything. That was a mandate by FIFA and we were practically threatened by FIFA that, if we didn’t see about it, they would send a normalisation committee.
“Even the new rule that gives clubs a vote was a FIFA mandate from as far back as 2013 when it was decided at a FIFA congress in Mauritius.”
Tim Kee, who is also Port of Spain mayor and PNM treasurer, did not stick around long enough to see the new constitution in action at the TTFA’s election on 29 November 2015.
After the first round of voting at the Hasely Crawford Stadium’s VIP room, John-Williams led presidential delegates with 18 votes followed by Tim Kee (13), Taylor (8) and Browne and Ramdhan, who received three votes each.
And Tim Kee left the room before the second round of voting and never returned; not even to support his own prospective vice-presidents, Colin Murray, Keston Nancoo and Kamau Bandele, who faced the electorate afterwards.
John-Williams was subsequently elected president while all three of his vice-presidential candidates, Ewing Davis, Joanne Salazar and Allan Warner, were also elected.
In a subsequent Trinidad Guardian interview, Tim Kee described John-Williams’ elevation as a “misnomer.”
John-Williams confirmed to Wired868 that the outgoing president never contacted him to offer congratulations on his new post.
Although the new TTFA president has not yet named his potential general secretary, current Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) general secretary and San Juan Jabloteh CEO Azaad Khan is believed to be favoured for the post.
Khan is part of the SSFL executive committee, headed by president Anthony Creed, that recently landed a multi-million dollar five year contract with Digicel SportsMax, which starts in 2016 with a TT$1.4 million payment and gradually increases annually to reach close to TT$2 million by the final year.
The deal includes weekly broadcasts of SSFL matches throughout the Caribbean region and in the United States and Canada as well as coaching programmes, all star games and increased social media presence.
The new SSFL contract also allows the football body to continue to engage title sponsors like First Citizens Bank.
Khan told Wired868 that the SSFL board will sit down early next year to decide how to use the sponsorship money to attain particular goals for the schools’ game.