Home / Volley / Global Football / We helped build Oliver’s house! Sancho fires back at ex-Central captain

We helped build Oliver’s house! Sancho fires back at ex-Central captain

The Central FC board, which is headed by ex-Sport Minister Brent Sancho and includes his former advisor Kevin Harrison, responded to the furore over the sacking of its former captain Marvin Oliver with a 983-word press release, published on the Soca Warriors Online website, that both confirmed and denied releasing the player.

Photo: Central FC chairman and ex-Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho. Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Central FC chairman and ex-Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

In an extraordinary personal attack, Central also described Oliver as ungrateful and claimed that the club helped build his house and keep him out of jail.

The Sancho-led board also suggested, in the statement, that Oliver was convinced to make his “militant stance” by a journalist. The press statement was emailed by Harrison and provided contact details for him and Sancho, in case of follow-up questions.

The 41 year old midfield star and former San Juan North student, who was recently selected among the best Secondary School Football League (SSFL) players for the past 50 years, contacted Wired868 soon after Central manager Kevin Jeffrey told him his contract was terminated.

The club’s account of where the friction started with Oliver is consistent with the player’s recollection. The dreadlocked playmaker, who was one of Central’s outstanding players last season, asked his coach, Dale Saunders, if he was expected to be used regularly in the near future.

And, if not, whether the club was willing to let him leave on loan.

Photo: North East Stars utility player Kennedy Hinkson (left) pressures Central FC sweeper Marvin Oliver during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars utility player Kennedy Hinkson (left) pressures Central FC sweeper Marvin Oliver during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Central confirmed this conversation, although they did not mention whether Oliver had suggested a loan move.

Central then prepared a termination letter for Oliver, which was handed to him by Jeffrey on behalf of Saunders.

“Following on from this conversation, having no wish to prevent the player from continuing his career elsewhere, a letter was prepared by the club agreeing to release Mr Oliver from his contract,” stated the Central release today. “This letter was delivered to Mr Oliver at the training ground on Tuesday 26 January by Kevin Jeffrey, Dale Saunders and Derek Khan.”

The initial letter, which was published by Wired868, informed that the club would: “arrange for your release, effective today.”

Oliver was also told not to join the team on the training ground and to leave the premises.

Photo: Central FC's termination letter to Marvin Oliver, which was delivered by team manager Kevin Jeffrey and bore name of coach Dale Saunders.
Photo: Central FC’s termination letter to Marvin Oliver, which was delivered by team manager Kevin Jeffrey and bore name of coach Dale Saunders.

Bizarrely—despite handing Oliver a letter which said his contract was terminated—Sancho, Harrison and the remaining Central board members claimed that Oliver was not fired.

“At no point was Marvin Oliver’s employment terminated by the club,” stated Central’s press release. “Indeed, no official release from his contract has been prepared. Until an official release from contract letter was prepared and signed by both parties, Mr Oliver’s employment was intact…

“This letter was merely correspondence confirming a verbal discussion.”

Central suggested Oliver was trying to win a battle of wills, so as to get more playing time, and the club called his bluff.

“At no time had there been any discussion to terminate Marvin Oliver’s contract,” stated the Central release. “He was a squad player and would certainly be called upon from time to time.

“It would appear that Mr Oliver didn’t expect the club to accept his request to leave the club, and panicked, knowing that no other club would pay the same level of salary as he received at Central FC.”

Photo: The "Central Choir", accompanied by Central FC operations manager Kevin Harrison (centre), look on from the sidelines at the Mahaica Oval in 2015 Pro League action. Harrison served as Sport Minister Brent Sancho's advisor, last year, and is a former voluntary worker with the UK's Professional Footballers' Association (PFA). (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: The “Central Choir”, accompanied by Central FC operations manager Kevin Harrison (centre), look on from the sidelines at the Mahaica Oval in 2015 Pro League action.
Harrison served as Sport Minister Brent Sancho’s advisor, last year, and is a former voluntary worker with the UK’s Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA).
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

By Central’s own admission then, Oliver did not want to leave the club but only hoped to get more playing time. And it was the “Couva Sharks” who escalated the situation when they gave him a release letter and asked the player to leave the premises.

Oliver said, when he received the letter, he promptly told Jeffrey he did not wish to be released. He claimed Jeffrey then went over to Sancho, Saunders, assistant coach Dale Saunders and another team manager, Derek Khan, and held a brief meeting.

Khan then walked over and said the club stood by their release letter.

The club denied that this meeting took place. But, in today’s release, the Sharks admitted that they did not get the response they expected from Oliver.

Instead of grovelling for his job, Oliver contacted Wired868, lodged a complaint with the Pro League, wrote to Sancho and asked to be paid up for the remainder of his contract and sought legal advice.

Photo: Central FC Marvin Oliver (right) is presented with a Ruby Tuesday gift certificate as Wired868's 2014/15 Player of the Year by Wired868 director of operations Lou-Ann Sankar. North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw was also honoured as Wired868's Young Player of the Year. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC Marvin Oliver (right) is presented with a Ruby Tuesday gift certificate as Wired868’s 2014/15 Player of the Year by Wired868 director of operations Lou-Ann Sankar.
North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw was also honoured as Wired868’s Young Player of the Year.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Sancho and Harrison suggested that Oliver’s response was not in keeping with “recognised grievance procedure.”

“One of the reasons for such a letter is that it would give the recipient an opportunity to reconsider his actions before the formal letter of termination is issued,” stated the Central board. “Instead of following the recognised grievance procedure, or even, common employment practice, and requesting a meeting with the board, Mr Oliver decided instead to contact a journalist and air his grievances publicly.”

Central further blamed the entire incident on the journalist that Oliver discussed the matter with, who is Wired868 editor Lasana Liburd.

“It appears that outside influences, perhaps with their own agendas, have convinced Mr Oliver to take a more militant route in the public domain,” stated Central. “Airing such grievances in public can benefit no party other than the journalist.

“Yet it is the player and the club, and, ultimately, the game of football, whose reputations are tarnished in the name of writing one or two headlines.”

Photo: LA Galaxy forward and stand-in captain Allan Gordon (right) catches Central FC veteran Marvin Oliver with an elbow during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: LA Galaxy forward and stand-in captain Allan Gordon (right) catches Central FC veteran Marvin Oliver with an elbow during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Central board claimed that they could have justifiably fired Oliver for talking to the media—notwithstanding the fact that they had already sacked him.

Sancho offered to meet the sacked player and possibly fine him instead.

“Central FC would have been within their rights to terminate Mr Oliver’s contract on the basis of gross misconduct by bringing the club into disrepute,” stated Central. “However, the board of Central FC decided instead to invite Mr Oliver to a meeting at the club office to resolve the situation. Mr Oliver was and still is, an employee of Central FC and is contracted until 31 May 2016.

“As such, it is the responsibility of Mr Oliver to attend meetings when requested. However, Mr Oliver declined to attend the meeting and instead suggested to meet four days later in Port of Spain…

Photo: Former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), 2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media in 2013. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), 2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media in 2013.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“One final attempt was made by the board to resolve the matter by requesting Mr Oliver’s attendance at a meeting on Friday 29 January 2016 at the club office…

“The letter also reminded Mr Oliver that it is his contractual duty to attend the meeting and a fine would be administered should he fail to attend, which is standard practice.

“Once again, instead of responding in a professional and respectful manner, Mr Oliver decided to send this letter to a journalist for publication, together with further derogatory remarks.”

The Central board claimed that it chose the high moral ground in its response to Oliver’s “derogatory remarks”—the player told Wired868 that Sancho was worse than ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner—out of respect for his “exemplary service” to the club.

Photo: Central FC players (from left) Elton John, Yohance Marshall and captain Marvin Oliver pose with the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield trophy. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC players (from left) Elton John, Yohance Marshall and captain Marvin Oliver pose with the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield trophy.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Central then claimed to have given Oliver building material for his house and prevented his potential arrest in a legal matter.

“The club has also supported him in two separate legal matters which were in the public domain, when the club could simply have terminated his contract,” stated the Central release. “Several other incidents during his time with Central FC could have resulted in termination. In one incident, the club lost a potential sponsor valued at around $200,000 per year.

“Our club sponsor, Bankers Insurance also helped Mr Oliver financially, preventing his arrest.

“Central FC and its sponsors have also assisted Mr Oliver with the building of his house by contributing finances and building materials.”

Incidentally, even as Sancho and Harrison claim that Oliver has harmed the image of the Pro League club, the two Central directors are under investigation by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) regarding their: conduct with regards to the transfers of Central FC forward Rundell Winchester, the signing of then 16-year-old winger Levi Garcia, and the alleged misappropriation of CONCACAF funds and non-payment of bonuses to Central players.

Photo: CS Vise official and football agent Steve Davies said he rebuffed the request for a personal payment for then Central FC officials Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison.
Photo: CS Vise official and football agent Steve Davies said he rebuffed the request for a personal payment for then Central FC officials Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison.

The probe has paused under new TTFA president David John Williams, who is yet to restart the relevant disciplinary bodies.

The Central board, whose directors Sancho and Harrison were both members of the now defunct Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT), claimed that the Oliver brouhaha is a good example as to why the country needs a players association.

“It is these situations which clearly show the need for a players association,” stated the Central board. “Had Mr Oliver had access to professional advice, the situation may well have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.”

The need for a players association might be one thing Sancho, Harrison and Oliver could all agree on.

Oliver has denied all of the club’s allegations.

(Central FC release on Marvin Oliver furore)

Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC managing director and chairman Brent Sancho. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister and Central FC managing director and chairman Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It is not usual for the board of Central FC to air personal issues in public, a fact that Mr Oliver himself can testify to. Yet due to the reckless and inaccurate reporting of this episode, the club feels it has no choice other than to defend its reputation as well as that of its players, staff and sponsors.

On Sunday 24 January, following a game versus W Connection in which he took no part, Marvin Oliver spoke to Team Manager Kevin Jeffrey and Head Coach Dale Saunders. Mr Oliver was disappointed in the number of appearances he had been making.

He made it clear that if he was not going to be starting more games he would prefer to leave the club. This is a usual occurrence in football, particularly when a player begins to mature.

Following on from this conversation, having no wish to prevent the player from continuing his career elsewhere, a letter was prepared by the club agreeing to release Mr Oliver from his contract.

This letter was delivered to Mr Oliver at the training ground on Tuesday 26th January by Kevin Jeffrey, Dale Saunders and Derek Khan.

Contrary to certain press statements, no impromptu meeting between Managing Director Brent Sancho, Dale Saunders and Stern John took place on the training field regarding Marvin Oliver.

At no point was Marvin Oliver’s employment terminated by the club. Indeed, no official release from his contract has been prepared.

Until an official release from contract letter was prepared and signed by both parties, Mr Oliver’s employment was intact. Indeed, it is standard practice that when a player leaves the club he is required to return all apparel before receiving his final salary.

No such letter had been prepared or presented.

Photo: Veteran Central midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) hits the ground after a dread tackle from North East Stars ball winner Jeromie Williams. Oliver scored twice for Central this evening. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Veteran Central midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) hits the ground after a dread tackle from North East Stars ball winner Jeromie Williams.
Oliver scored twice for Central this evening.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

This letter was merely correspondence confirming a verbal discussion. One of the reasons for such a letter is that it would give the recipient an opportunity to reconsider his actions before the formal letter of termination is issued.

Instead of following the recognised grievance procedure, or even, common employment practice, and requesting a meeting with the board, Mr Oliver decided instead to contact a journalist and air his grievances publicly.

This resulted in several untruths and misconceptions being expressed, exaggerated, and now repeated as if fact.

At this point, Central FC would have been within their rights to terminate Mr Oliver’s contract on the basis of gross misconduct by bringing the club into disrepute.

However, the board of Central FC decided instead to invite Mr Oliver to a meeting at the club office to resolve the situation.

Mr Oliver was and still is, an employee of Central FC and is contracted until 31 May 2016.

As such, it is the responsibility of Mr Oliver to attend meetings when requested. However, Mr Oliver declined to attend the meeting and instead suggested to meet four days later in Port of Spain.

Again, this refusal to attend an official meeting is a contradiction of the terms of Mr Oliver’s contract.

One final attempt was made by the board to resolve the matter by requesting Mr Oliver’s attendance at a meeting on Friday 29 January 2016 at the club office. The invitation was sent in writing.

Photo: Kevin Harrison, the former Advisor to the Sport Minister, is the operations manager at Central FC. (Copyright Lime.TT)
Photo: Kevin Harrison, the former Advisor to the Sport Minister, is the operations manager at Central FC.
(Copyright Lime.TT)

The letter also reminded Mr Oliver that it is his contractual duty to attend the meeting and a fine would be administered should he fail to attend, which is standard practice.

Once again, instead of responding in a professional and respectful manner, Mr Oliver decided to send this letter to a journalist for publication, together with further derogatory remarks.

Mr Oliver has provided exemplary service to Central FC on the field. Out of respect for Mr Oliver and the service he has provided, Central FC has frequently been financially supportive of his community projects.

Indeed, no other Central FC player has received as much support and respect as Mr Oliver, a fact that he seems to have forgotten.

The club has also supported him in two separate legal matters which were in the public domain, when the club could simply have terminated his contract.

Several other incidents during his time with Central FC could have resulted in termination.

In one incident the club lost a potential sponsor valued at around TT$200,000 per year. Our club sponsor, Bankers Insurance also helped Mr Oliver financially, preventing his arrest.

Central FC and its sponsors have also assisted Mr Oliver with the building of his house by contributing finances and building materials.

The reality of the situation is that Mr Oliver tried to force the club to select him more often. Unfortunately, despite his ability, the club’s coaches felt that he would not be suited to the new tactics employed by the club in most games.

Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (right) signals to his squad while San Juan Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey looks on during 2015/16 Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC coach Dale Saunders (right) signals to his squad while San Juan Jabloteh coach Keith Jeffrey looks on during 2015/16 Pro League action at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

No club wants to force a player to stay when he wants to leave.

However, at no time had there been any discussion to terminate Marvin Oliver’s contract. He was a squad player and would certainly be called upon from time to time.

It would appear that Mr Oliver didn’t expect the club to accept his request to leave the club, and panicked, knowing that no other club would pay the same level of salary as he received at Central FC.

It is these situations which clearly show the need for a players association. Had Mr. Oliver had access to professional advice, the situation may well have been resolved to the satisfaction of both parties.

Instead it appears that outside influences, perhaps with their own agendas, have convinced Mr Oliver to take a more militant route in the public domain.

Airing such grievances in public can benefit no party other than the journalist. Yet it is the player and the club, and, ultimately, the game of football, whose reputations are tarnished in the name of writing one or two headlines.

As we have seen so many times, the real loser in this dispute will be the beautiful game.

Photo: Former Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.  (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read ex-Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT) president Shaka Hislop’s response in support of Marvin Oliver. 

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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126 comments

  1. TT Pro league…aka CEPEP for Footballers.

  2. “Prevented him from being arrested?” Can someone say perverting the course of justice? Aiding, abetting, counseling or procuring?

  3. He is a vain and petty man…. who is no better than those money hungry vampires

  4. Marvin Oliver is a true n worthy footballer ….his mind heart soul body is in every game he plays ….he is a legend to many with or without a crown on his head ….Mr Sancho i dispise u …ur a man of very low selfesteem n alot of jealousy towards Marvin……..in other wrds ( ur a low down dirty shame )…….i applaud Marvin f his silence towards ur nasty mentality ….. I pray the Almighty gives Marvin the strength dat he an his family needs at this time ……My advice to u Mr Brent Sancho…change ur dirty ways ….their is a GOD n he is paying close attention to those who trys to cut his children….WHO YAHWEH BLESS NO MAN CAN CURSE ……….. ONE LOVE RASTA MAN KEEP UR CHIN UP .

  5. Brent Sancho you big punk run way with ur shithound self nah boy.

  6. This club is obviously being poorly managed and they fortunately or unfortunately don’t even have the benefit of a competent communications team to at least make it appear otherwise.

  7. Bizarrely—despite handing Oliver a letter which said his contract was terminated—Sancho, Harrison and the remaining Central board members claimed that Oliver was not fired.

    “At no point was Marvin Oliver’s employment terminated by the club,” stated Central’s press release. “Indeed, no official release from his contract has been prepared. Until an official release from contract letter was prepared and signed by both parties, Mr Oliver’s employment was intact… how idiotic …how can they write that and not see the asinine contradictions. and they say they wont lower themselves to Olivers level then proceed to air his personal issues. Seriously this press release was scripted by someone now in form one doing homework on PR

  8. but we all know what the result will be with this case its talked about for a few days maybe a week and by next week this is old news and nothing will be done 2 change anything cause that’s the stupid backward society we live in a bunch of undercover people making comments and doing nothing as usual but shaking it all day

  9. everybody seeing him now 4 the crook and hyprocrite he is people feel he went after jack cause he had integrity well now they see it was and always was about money nothing else

  10. No surprises here for me , we must not forget that the club management was/is aligned to the UNC.

  11. Exploitation, exploitation, exploitation. Oliver is not the only one and Central is not the only club. Players are generally scared to enforce their rights for fear of victimization and it is why professional sportsmen must try their utmost to have something to fall back on because their careers are extremely short.

  12. Shaka Hislop slams Central FC statement, released by Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison, as unfair and desperately untrue! ESPN analyst and ex-FPATT president supports Marvin Oliver
    http://wired868.com/2016/01/30/shaka-supports-oliver-slams-desperately-untrue-central-statement/

  13. Hi, Marvin is a mentally strong man to have continued to this time, it takes mental fortitude, so why would someone try to play mind games with him? issuing a letter to get a reaction? this type of action may work in the U.K not here. The I.L.O and the Industrial court would use these words ” Harsh, Oppressive and keeping with good industrial relations practice” we see in other parts of thE world players ask coaches that same question, never seen or heard that type of response. Too many boys in that group one man just had to stand and say what the group had to convey, instead they all wanted to blame the other so the could say to Marvin “it wasn’t me” To all the parties involved i say this, our local game does not need this, the energy being spent on this should be used to better the conditions of the clubs in the league and i mean all clubs, the league is in crisis, the senior players will feel it most how do we go about cutting our wage bills? it means using younger players at lower wages we all know this. This would mean that the youth will now have to step up, that does not mean we treat our legends that fought for us bled for us this way. I say this to all clubs, for the last time, we need to be a team as Pro League Clubs work together for the betterment of the league and when we are gone maybe just maybe we will have a “PRO LEAGUE” that everyone will be proud of. Hey Look at Jamaica see the crowds after just a few months hey they doing something right, yes?

    • Lasana Liburd

      The only thing I disagree with is that they would ever try this in Britain. They won’t. Kevin Harrison actually worked as a voluntary field officer for the PFA in England too.
      That’s how he met Sancho in the first place.

  14. Biggest load of bullshit I ever heard. How could you tell someone that his contract is terminated and ask for him to leave the premises immediately and not call that a firing? . In industrial law this constitutes a firing. If the player is an asset to the club, won’t it not be wiser to talk him into staying, convincing him that he can be a mentor to the younger players even tho his role on the pitch will be diminished as time goes on? From this article, at no time did Marvin expressed a desire to leave the club. A loan arrangement is not a separation but a desire to continue playing elsewhere, knowing that u can be recalled to duty if the need arises. And how does reproaching someone publicly make u appear Brent? Do u anticipate that other players will wanna solicit ur assistance when in need if u will expose ur so-called goodwill in public? Sancho u are a classless little man who sought to humiliate a player for what u saw as indiscretions on his part when u were challenged to account for ur underhanded dealings with the players’ hard earned money. Ure a their and a dishonorable man. Marvin is at the end of his career so please allow him the dignity of leaving the game on his own terms and pay him his monies or u may have to pay him that and more in court. And uall called Jack the worst?!!

  15. This Brent Sancho is devoid of class boi weyyy

  16. Shawn Abasali they taking advantage of our local players ….The so call coaches in charge were players of the pro league so they know how hard it is to be a local footballer in Trinidad and went tru d same struggle as Marvin and his teammates facing every forth night. #TEAMMARVINOLIVER#

  17. Since I small Jerron Abasali….I calling that man Zidane… Pain in Meh heart dawg #AlwaysSing4Marvin

  18. The man is a legend Kevin Harrison…y allyuh treating the man so. #AlwaysSing4Marvin

  19. These ppl mad yes…..gave Jah Vin a letter stating effective immediately then stating that it was an acknowledgement letter…. Earl Mango Pierre them really good. #AlwaysSing4Marvin

  20. But they taking advantage of our youths down there jus last week I was talking to a player and and he said they are being mistreated and if they sand for the rights they are fined or put on the bench that is abuse of powers and they not paying the players and when they do pay they paying short

  21. what does building a house have to do with contractual obligations? BRENT SOUNDING LIKE ROODLAL MOONILAL