Mysterious construction contracts without Board approval, national football coaches operating without oversight and a secret “sweetheart deal” with i95.5FM were among the controversial revelations yesterday as the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) held a marathon AGM at the Cycling Centre in Couva.
There were roughly 45 delegates and board members at one point yesterday for a memorable session that lasted over 11 hours, as participants rallied on coffee, water and one snack box—a sandwich, slice of cake, cookie and four grapes.
TTFA president David John-Williams was still in charge at the end, as no no confidence motion came from the floor. However, it was a bruising day for the businessman and W Connection owner, who was forced to make multiple concessions and was overruled on several occasions.
“What came out yesterday proved that lies were told to us,” Northern Football Association (NFA) president Anthony Harford told Wired868, “and there was a level of deceit and one-mannism in the football fraternity.
“Decisions claimed to be made by the Board were not made by the Board but were in fact made by one man.”
Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president Keith Look Loy seconded that assessment.
“Yesterday, the Emperor’s nakedness was revealed,” said Look Loy. “John-Williams’ lack of leadership, his mismanagement of the Association, and his usurpation of the authority of the TTFA Board was made transparently clear, time and again in issue after issue.
“The Board, members of which come from the bowels of football as its representatives, has conceded its authority to the one-mannism of John-Williams [and] allowed this open sore to fester. The TTFA ship is rudderless.”
Arguably, the most serious of John-Williams’ perceived transgressions lay in the approval and oversight of work done at the TTFA’s Home of Football project, which includes training grounds, players’ hotel and entertainment centre, located just outside of the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
“It was evident that contracts were entered into, approaches were made to government for land, approaches were made to FIFA for funding,” said VFFOTT president Selby Browne, “with absolutely no approval from the Board.
“[John-Williams] said that he received gifts of a loan of tractors from Junior Sammy and gravel as a gift from National Quarries. But there was no approval for anything. He just went ahead and did all these things.”
John-Williams, who owns a construction company, allegedly informed the meeting that a committee that included his first vice-president Ewing Davis and TTFA employee Sharon O’ Brien oversaw the tender. That tender was then supposedly approved by the Board.
The problem for the TTFA President was that no other Board member could remember any meeting which gave that approval, while general secretary Justin Latapy-George could find no evidence of it, despite a search through his files.
“The total FIFA funding available for this project is US$2.25 million,” said Look Loy. “But instead of awarding one big contract, [John-Williams] broke the project into many small contracts of US$50,000 each.
“So he is acting like a contractor who is paying smaller contractors; and in that scenario, he could be giving money to anyone.”
Look Loy turned to John-Williams’ second vice-president Joanne Salazar and Board member Richard Quan Chan to vouch for the football president.
“I want to hear either one of you say the Board approved the contracts handed out to anybody,” said Look Loy.
Salazar and Quan Chan, according to several witnesses, remained silent. First vice-president Ewing Davis suggested that consensus was arrived at by “some” Board members via email; but that initially provoked laughter from the floor, was deemed unacceptable by members and eventually rejected.
“It is obvious that these things were never brought to any meeting,” Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association (TTFRA) vice-president Osmond Downer told the meeting, proposing an immediate halt to all work.
Southern Football Association (SFA) representative Lennox “Bullet” Pilgrim suggested that a lengthy delay might affect the employment of the labourers and masons involved. And members agreed that the Board should move quickly to avoid such an outcome, once possible.
“I hereby move a motion that all work be stopped on the construction with immediate effect,” said Downer, “and that an emergency meeting of the Board be held post-haste to discuss the tenders and to agree to the people who are being awarded the contracts… And this must be reported in the next general meeting in 60 days.”
Downer, according to one source, was referred to as “The Motion Man” by members. One of the architects of the current TTFA Constitution, he often represented the floor and acted almost as a de facto chair—at one point, chiding the president for constantly interrupting speakers when they tried to contribute.
An example of Downer’s influence and John-Williams’ own diminishing power came when the football president ordered that the meeting be adjourned for lunch. Downer overruled him.
“Mr Chairman, you cannot adjourn this meeting,” said Downer, according to sources. “The meeting must adjourn itself. So I move that the meeting be adjourned for lunch…”
By then, there had already been the almost inevitable shouting match between Browne and John-Williams. Browne was recently appointed to the National Lotteries Control Board (NLCB) Board and he claimed that the TTFA president had been trying to use his position to make things difficult for the local football body.
“The chairman is going around saying that he has audio recordings of me, Selby Browne, telling the Prime Minister not to give any money to the TTFA,” said Browne. “That is a lie.”
“Yes!” John-Williams responded. “I have it.”
“You’re a liar!” Browne shot back. “You’re a pathological liar!”
Did John-Williams really have an audio recording of a conversation between Browne and Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley?
The football president refused to produce the evidence to support his claim. But he did not retract it either. Browne, who said he had not spoken to Rowley since he joined the NLCB Board, accused the football president of a smear campaign and the exchange got so heated that Look Loy, on Downer’s prompting, rushed over for a quiet word with the delegate.
“Listen Selby, if you don’t calm down you will give him a reason to adjourn the meeting on a point of disorder,” Look Loy whispered to Browne, who relented.
The room was buzzing again when John-Williams admitted that the TTFA had a sole trader agreement with i95.5FM in which the football body not only pays the radio station to cover matches but also covers airfare and hotel accommodation and, on at least one occasion, even paid broadcast fees for reporter Andre Baptiste and his colleague.
i95.5FM has regularly provided favourable reviews of the local football body while Baptiste was severely critical of former coach Stephen Hart in the immediate build-up to his dismissal by the John-Williams-led Board.
“Broadcast rights are a source of revenue,” said Browne. “People pay you for this. So why are we paying Andre Baptiste?”
“This has to be the first time in the history of mankind that [the TTFA] is paying a radio station to cover our football,” said Harford, who has extensive experience in radio and television.
John-Williams was asked to produce a copy of the contract with i95.5FM, reveal the figure paid to the radio station and the tender process and prove that the “sweetheart deal” had Board approval. Again, he could not.
Downer successfully moved a motion that the information be brought to members at an extraordinary general meeting in 60 days.
Look Loy also probed the operations of the technical committee, which was headed by recently retired Pro League chairman Sam Phillip.
“We found out yesterday that there is no functioning technical committee,” said Harford.
“There have been no reviews submitted of coaching personnel or our tournament performances,” said Look Loy. “John-Williams claimed he had a report for the [CONCACAF Women’] National Under-20 tournament but nobody had seen it. None of the coaches were being appraised.
“[…] So now we realise that our problems go well beyond player development. We need to look at root-and-branch changes in our technical staff.
“[…] So we asked to see letters of commitment and contracts for all of our coaches.”
After some discussion by the floor, it was agreed that a newly constituted technical committee would review the performance of all technical staffs, establish a national technical plan, analyse the domestic elite competition structure from the regional zones through to the TTSL and TT Pro League and look at the relationship between the TTSL and TTPL and review TTFA distribution of FIFA funds to members and apply criteria to same.
The dominance of W Connection coaches under the multi-million-dollar NLCB programme was another sore point.
“In seven years, Connection has won nothing at youth level but they have all the jobs,” Look Loy told the gathering, “and Jabloteh are scooping up trophies but they have nothing.”
“But look at how many players Defence Force has on the senior team,” John-Williams retorted, “and they ent win nothing. So how come people not complaining about that?”
“Because you are president of Connection,” Look Loy shot back. “Perception is reality.”
How much were those coaches earning anyway? The TTFA’s biggest line item on its financial statement was TT$15 million for “professional fees.” The floor demanded specifics.
John-Williams refused to provide details.
“I can’t do that,” said the TTFA president. “That is people’s private money.”
“It is not what you want,” Browne shot back. “The membership is directing you to do so!”
Central Football Association (CFA) general secretary Clynt Taylor pointed out that, at his credit union, shareholders were entitled to information on all salaries. Why should football be different?
“Is we who are paying them, not you,” said Look Loy. “It is our football money and we need to know what they are making.”
The matter went to a vote and, again, John-Williams lost. In 60 days, the TTFA Board must provide detailed financial information at an extraordinary general meeting.
“I, on a personal level, have some reservation about people’s salaries [being shared in the general meeting],” said Harford. “But people voted for that information to be released […] so David has no choice now but to comply.”
Without such information at hand, for the sixth time, the members did not pass the 2016 financial statement.
There are impending changes at board level too. Second vice-president Allan Warner lost his place on the board after missing more than four successive meetings while, owing to potential conflicts of interest, Wayne Cunningham and Sharon O’Brien were both ordered to choose between employment at the TTFA and board places.
“They have been told that they must relinquish their posts as Board members or their employment [with the TTFA],” said Harford. “You can’t be Justin’s boss on some days and he is your boss on other days; that is crap.”
As the sun set, the AGM haemorrhaged delegates and, by the end, only roughly a third of the members who had started the meeting remained. Downer, who took pain killers in the morning for an old spinal injury, was among them.
“I have got to thank Osmond Downer for his commitment and tenacity yesterday,” said Look Loy. “He showed more stamina than people half his age.”
John-Williams had survived too. Despite the discontent voiced by several members, there was no formal move to replace him at the helm of the local football body.
“I think by the end of the evening, people felt ‘let us see if there is any improvement’ since they know that we are watching them now,” said Harford. “But it is still an option that people are holding.
“[…] David is enthusiastic about the football but [some of his flaws are not] good for the football. For instance, he is not a good listener… He doesn’t like to listen, he likes to speak and that is a major flaw for a chairman.”
Despite grumbles about the length of the meeting, many felt significant progress had been made.
“It was a great day for democracy and the constitutional authority of the membership,” said Look Loy, “which passed a series of key resolutions that, once implemented seriously, could put our football on an even keel and give it direction.”
“I think they understand now,” he said, “that they are dealing with people who are not going to sit back and accept whatever they tell us.”
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Tony ”Jet lee” Lee is the real frequent flyer and Andre ‘loud mouth’ Baptiste were accused some time ago by a UNC CAL chairman of asking him for plane tickets.Were these guys working for DJW to get Hart out of town.There was a continuous campaign by the fearless duo to badmouth Stephen Hart..I had a lot of questions about their unfairness to Thema Williams the gymnast.Were they sucking up to the Olympic Committee who ducked the issue.I hope these two are not hustlers for trips and accomodations for the major sporting events
Why are people beating up when we all know that he came from the Jack Warner school of football?
the lies will continue to come out as we the people can not be deceive any more and we now have the internet to rewind and re watch so that that we will start holding them accountable
Football in T&T is progressing under DJW.He is way ahead in of his detractors but he from South and THAT is a problem.All yuh remember Dom Basil Matthews? All yuh remember his vision for football?
Oh yes, we do remember. His vision was clear: Win by any means necessary; people like Clyde Paul won’t care if you cheated to earn the victory.
Ask the Secondary Schools League to see the updated records and you’ll discover, presumably to your chagrin, that instead of 20/20 vision, DBM was incredibly short-sighted.
Sounds alot like how other Sporting bodies behaved on major life changing decisions for young aspiring individuals.
Fortunately the floor and upstanding board members revealed the bag of deceit and ineptitude toted of those whom were inclined to perform these acts.. Deal with dem!
All Trinbagonian have (STORIES) , last said by our celebrated actor Winston Duke (Black Panther).
Wow what a thing ?
If Ken Galt is mentioned,what about Eric James who was replaced by Jack Warner,nothing has changed
Joshua Mickel Lamb how did he shake down the cabinet?
I was just kidding. But I think that most of the revelations might have had some “assistance “
I cannot believe that John Williams was not replaced. They were / are only partially serious. There are genuine football enthusiasts who want the best for football in T&T and can lead. Why are they being sidelined?
Most structures require two persons to sign a document. and the Executive is supposed to question all decisions. Where is the Executive? Where is the monitoring by the Ministry of Sports and the Sporting Company? All involved in poor administration? The blind cannot lead the blind!!
From JW to DJW.
The book “Animal Farm’ must be a must read for all sports administrators. They all end up being pigs.
As far as I can make out, Marlon, some of them start out being hogs. And I have encountered the occasional jackass as well, just in case you’re wondering…
This is one scandal the self-appointed fearless one Andre Errol Baptiste would rather be fearful about. I guess too he will be influenced by i95.5 FM Influential radio boss man Tony Lee to stay quiet. after all Tony Lee has chinee in him and our chinees here only talk about making money. They don’t cater for social, political and sporting commentary. It is only Darian Marcelle who has hinted on i95.5 FM radio about the shenanigans of DJW. Ralph Maraj knows when to shut his mouth because he taught DJW, and John Gill..look forget him.
Stereotypes always make me nervous. No matter the race involved.
I won’t blame all Chinese people for the good, bad or indifferent from Tony. Otherwise I think the station might be compromised as well when the conversation is about the TTFA.
Fine. I did some editing to calm your nervousness. But by the way what is ethnicity?
Every person should be held accountable for their own behavior. But not for the behavior of any entire race, gender or nationality. That’s my only point there. Otherwise I’m fine.
Lasana – I think you were too easy on Haydn Murray. Statements like his should be banned on Wired686.
I understand Carlos. And I’d like to delete now. But I feel if I do so, then nobody will learn from this but Hayden and myself.
Whereas if I leave it up and show the admonishment and his acknowledgment of it, then others who come can see what exists out there and our treatment of it.
We would not allow him to make further comments like that if he persisted.
Lasana Liburd …That statement should be up on billboards all over Trinidad and Tobago…Well said.
Naivety shouldn’t be exposed to universal billboard acclaim.
Billboards are illegal just as your comments are odious, which very much diminish what you are trying to say
Tsk! Tsk! You French creoles eh!
Them really good yes!!!!!
Most times people want change when things are not going well not when things are not right. Some public administration development is desperately needed in T&T. Leaders must listen. If they don’t do as they should they should be moved. Fight on, not for power and benefits but for the good of the game.
This has long been the MODUS OPERANDI of successive FOOTBALL ADMINISTRATIONS in Trinidad Football for decades, with the only possible exception being that of the late KEN GALT back in the 1960’s. Football like all sporting bodies in Trinidad and Tobago over the years, has a history of being a mere vehicle for UPWARD SOCIAL AND FINANCIAL MOBILITY for very bold and brave opportunists who have been very successful at what they do best. It is good to expose, oppose and confront them, however this is not enough as the hard ‘WUK’ has to be done on the ground by true FOOTBALL people, to produce GENUINE LEADERSHIP with a plan and vision, beyond that of merely replacing those in charge to deliver more of the same.
No truer words have ever been spoken. Best comment on this thread
Just about every turn, it’s only lies and more lies !!!
It’s good to see the members of the TTFA exercising their membership rights, but may I ask, where were some of these gentlemen ( Osmond Downer, Lennox Pilgrim, Keith Look Loy and others) who are making the most noise at this time under Oliver Camps and Jack Warner’s reign, when the TTFA was being raped and pillaged ?
Silent I guess and we all know the reason why they were silent, at this time they know everything that is wrong with John Williams leadership style (dictator, one-mannism etc.), they act as if they attended the best school on Integrity and Ethics and they are the most perfect, honest and squeaky clean men you can find.
Some of these gentlemen seems to be united now, wait until November 2019 ( if not before) when the long knives are drawn and they start to fight among themselves for the Presidency of the TTFA, wait until they assume office if they ever get into power and some of these gentlemen would soon forget what is wrong, dictatorial and unethical, some of these gentlemen would make John Williams look like an Angel, eh K.
When you look at some of these gentlemen they exhibit similar or even worst character traits than JW, at this time some of these gentlemen are engaging in similar or even worst behaviors than what they are accusing John Williams of in the Associations that they represent, eh Clint.
Let’s wait and see how this turns out.
That nitpick aside, it’s great to see Look Loy, Harford and Selby Browne (and Downer!) stand up to DJW. It is great to see that the Board of Directors is being called to account for their acquiescence to John-Williams, and the abdication of their responsibilities.
This is nitpicking a bit, but don’t “move a motion”.. you just move (“I move that…”, “Downer moved that…”)
And speaking of Downer:
“Downer, according to one source, was referred to as “The Motion Man” by members. One of the architects of the current TTFA Constitution, he often represented the floor and acted almost as a de facto chair.”
What role did Downer play in drafting the current Constitution?? The present TTFA Constitution was drafted almost verbatim from the recommendation of the Independent Football Reform Commission, comprised of:
Raoul John (Chairman)
Elton Prescott, SC
Dr. Sheila Rampersad
Brian Lewis and
This is the second time in as many weeks that I’m seeing Downer being credited with helping craft the Constitution, but I’m unaware of what, if any role he actually played.
Look,get rid of d President and Board members before things get worse!!
The more Management change is d more things remain d same!!It looks like d President can do what he wants??D Board members weak!!
Exactly when you put incompetent people to represent different levels… a leader needs good minds around the table…good to see that the meeting took place and things are happening for football. In two years lots have happened and it’s amazing to hear the fire in some peoples bellies now but a few years ago not a word about standing up to fight for football how many years of decay of Trinidad football and no one barked ,they had all sorts of position under the big boss tenure But not a man barked!woow what a world …some fighting for power and if you only start to ask pertinent questions about their history in not the far to distant future then you would have an idea why football is where it is today. I luv the the conversation, hope djw will fight to put things in place for our football .you have to battle when things need to happen but also listen to your people’s cry …keep taking football forward without a salary for what you do…give it your all and if it is not good enough then we hope someone else can but not talkers but someone with the will that you have…remember you don’t need this…you are trying to give something to the football blessings to you and all those who genuinely try . …questions will be coming about a few soon…!!!keep fighting for football it’s a beautiful game and a game that we love ,Trinidad and Tobago needs fighters at this tough stage in a crippling finanacial economy.
Earl jean you just braying for your salary.
Nobody barked about issues in football before Earl? That’s a ridiculous and deluded statement. Worse, it is trying to create a distraction.
The issue is the governance now and the members made clear its issues with the current football president. If he doesn’t want to listen to his members, then he shouldn’t be TTFA president.
All the thin skinned stuff is irrelevant. He has to try to run the football body with integrity and transparency and in accordance with the wishes of the members. It is either he can manage that or he cannot. The history of Trinidad and Tobago football is irrelevant and certainly has nothing to do with him.
It is ironic that Trinidad and Tobago won World Cup places or, at least Caribbean titles, under almost ever other football president in history. None under DJW. Listening to you, one would swear it was was the other way around.
Leadership within an organization or system is one of those things where you get back out exactly what you put in. These horrible leaders are the same ones to whom we pandered without thinking about the ramifications
Maybe the reason that we end up with these Maximum Leaders is because we don’t get proper representation at the board levels. Because we do t get representation and accountability from the Zone level elected officers.
If everybody keeps ducking meetings and shirking responsibility then who’s to blame when one man takes the wheel and mashes gas in the directions he wants to take things.
..Exactly. The price of democracy is eternal vigilance. It is hard work and usually requires a fight..
The poet philosopher speaks!!!
But yes, that’s exactly what’s required. And not just from one or two guys either–from all the stakeholders who want to raise their hand and volunteer their service
And it requires not just working for FREE but at a ‘LOSS’! Not many people can consistently commit to that. Those posts all come at ‘costs’ be it gas, printing, phone bills, internet, personal computer use etc. It may be laughed at but it adds up and are basic requirements.. when added to personal/meeting time.
Encouraged to see mature commitment to constitutional process and organisational strengthening instead of attempts to replace one-mannism with one-mannism via vote of no confidence. Serious attention needs to be placed on “home of football” construction because the video released claiming 90% and 50% completion of various phases required you to ignore the very images in the video.
As I said before the member representatives facilitated all of this fiasco. They allowed the one-mannerism – the authoritarian control – the do as I say philosophy, by failing to perform their duties / failing to show up at meetings to represent us stakeholders. Imagine if they showed up at meetings in the past and held the president and board accountable for their actions? Imagine if they did this during the reign of Jack Warner and O. Camps? Imagine where our football would be right now. One interesting point that came out of yesterday’s meeting is the apparent misconception that the president should not be going out there to raise revenue for the TTFA. And that he needs permission from someone to do that. One would think that’s the primary role of the president. He should be congratulated for dollars raised not chastised.
Praying this is a catalyst to spur the TTFA into righting its ways and following the Constitution and getting progressively better administratively. Only time will tell.. see you in 60 days..
Agree Brian! It shouldn’t be about DJW or anything personal but about proper structure, management and operation cause those FA’s who have their house in order will always be ahead of T&T
Again….we like it so…we had a good thing going with the former administration and d football was heading in d right direction…all d hard work that was done just went down d drain… smh
Give this man ah beer….despite d administrative cock ups timkee was righting d ship and hiring d right people and staying out of on field business….while I would never ask lasana to ignore news…I can’t help but feel his reporting on timkee often felt “hatchety” and no I not saying he printed lies but that his distaste for warner era and people perceived to be part of that influenced his approach to reporting on d timkee ttfa….but then truth at a price……a price that unfortunately is too high IMO
Lasana is more than capable of defending his work but I have to ask whether you found gaps in his reporting on Tim Kee or whether there were things reported that were untrue.
Until you produce proof that there was stuff that went unreported or stuff that was inaccurately reported, you can stand by your “hatchety” but you must also concede that Tim Kee was hacked to death with his own hatchet.
um I think I made it quite clear that no lies were told, in d end Timkee allowed some desperation to set in and further derail is re-election but d on field production cannot be denied, it is sad to sad in the grand scheme, given our history of poor leaders in football and trini in general, could have seen myself turning a blind eye to said cock ups ……you see Mr. Best I looked at all those candidates and predicted that should Timkee lose, all progress made would be lost, DJW in particular scared the living hell out of me in regards, can smell ignorant bullies from a mile away and knew all would fall down….so said so done…….I simply feel he he was the lesser evil and it annoy me that I was right
Well look chubble nah!?!
Uhh when Jack Warner was in charge they didn’t seem to care about ‘one mannism’.
It seems like it’s an issue now……. all of them who have an issue now benefited when one man was in charge then
WOW! I95.5fm is one of the smaller listener-ships for sport marketing/sales. And if not…their effect has certainly not improved turnout at any matches at any level. ‘Favored’ should switch with ‘fearless’ one.
Lasana Liburd you see why our football is in a hott mess that it is killing out talented footballers …we must always remember a fish rotten from its head . Why we cant get rid of this man
Secret deal with i95.5? No wonder Prancing Knave *NEVER* has said a single bad word about King David’s time as TTFA president. Not once! Not even as much as a booboo nomination!
Descent into madness again. Can this cycle of administrative bacchanal ever cease?