TTFA board to be named on Wednesday; Downer: Wallace acted constitutionally

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) chief operating officer Azaad Khan has vowed to announce the body’s new board of directors by Wednesday 11 December.

Football stakeholders were given until Friday 6 December to submit their proposed representatives for the TTFA board with the general secretariat obliged to ratify those choices, once they were made in keeping with the constitution.

Photo: SSFL president William Wallace (centre) prepares to hand over the 2019 Premier Division trophy to Naparima College at CIC grounds on 4 November 2019.
Wallace was elected TTFA president on 24 November 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Khan, who is also the general secretary of the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) and served on the TTFA’s general secretariat for the past four years, did not say whether all the relevant parties submitted names on time. However, he promised to clarify matters by Wednesday.

The TTFA board has grown from 13 representatives in 2012 to 16 now, after members voted to offer places to the Trinidad and Tobago Super League, Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) and SSFL.

The absence of a functioning board has not stopped new president William Wallace, who was elected on 24 November, from making several decisions on behalf of the football body—such as temporarily closing the Home of Football, freezing the TTFA’s bank accounts, revoking financial support for the League of Champions and withdrawing the Men’s National Under-15 Team from the latter competition.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association vice-president Osmond Downer, one of the framers of the TTFA constitution in 2015, dismissed suggestions that Wallace acted improperly by doing so.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre) shows FIFA president Gianni Infantino (left) and T&T prime minister Dr Keith Rowley around an executive suite at the opening of the TTFA’s Home of Football in Couva on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

“Decisions are made by the board but, as I explained to [I95.5FM host] Andre Baptiste the other night on his programme, there are some things that can be done,” said Downer. “There are two things that people were making fuss about. The first is the closure of the hotel. ‘Closure’ is not the correct word because it was never properly opened.

“When I went to the hotel for the AGM, I made a rounds of the place and there are places with sinks but no taps and so on.

“If in the absence of a board it is discovered that there is no occupant insurance or fire insurance for the Home of Football, it will indeed be irresponsible of them to allow people to occupy the building.

“They cannot wait on a board to do that. If you are responsible you have to act.”

Former TTFA president David John-Williams hosted the Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team and Women’s Under-14 Team at the Home of Football as well as guest nations like Anguilla and Cuba despite not having insurance for anything but construction work at the venue.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago attacker Miakayla St Clair (left) tries to hold off Cuba’s Cinthia Canoto during CFU Girls U-14 Challenge Series action in Couva on 29 October 2019.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/CA-Images/Wired868)

Downer also said the constitution allowed Wallace to make certain financial decisions as president through article 39.1, which states: ‘The President represents TTFA legally’. Notably, it is the same clause that allowed John-Williams to lead the local football body into a string of expensive court defeats.

“The other thing people complained about was the freezing of the bank account,” said Downer. “But the president can direct that be done because it is the president who is the legal representative of the association according to article 39.1. And that is why at the Home of Football the [former] president was signing contracts without informing the board. He can claim to have authority to sign contracts, although he cannot hire and fire coaches and so on.”

Wallace’s apparent decision to accept the resignation of former general secretary Camara David is trickier.

“The board, on the proposal of the president, appoints or dismisses a general secretary,” said Downer. “But if a man resigns that is different; they could not dismiss him. But they merely accepted his resignation.”

However, Wired868 understands that David’s resignation was conditional on him being paid for the remainder of his contract, which expires in 2020. Can the new TTFA president commit football money to pay off his general secretary without board approval?

Photo: TTFA general secretary Camara David (right) and staff member Tamara Thompson pose during the opening of the TTFA Home of Football on 18 November 2019.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

“Well, not really you know,” said Downer.

Wallace suggested that David’s position remained influx.

“Camara actually came back to me and said let’s not describe it as a ‘resignation’, let us describe it as a ‘mutual separation between all parties’,” Wallace told Wired868. “He sent a document to me but I told him we have to go to the board for approval. So in effect, he is still on the job until that is signed off.

“He has taken a short vacation in the meantime and the COO, Azaad Khan, has been acting in that position.”

Wallace clarified his own dual role as TTFA and SSFL president and said he will formally relinquish the latter position next month.

“The SSFL executive met [last week] and decided I will fulfil the role until the presentation ceremony in January, since we are already at the end of the season,” he said. “Once that happens, the first vice president, Phillip Fraser, will act as president until the AGM in March when the election will be held.”

Photo: SSFL president William Wallace addresses the audience during the media launch of the 2019 season at Fatima College, Mucurapo on 3 September 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

Wallace explained why he, along with vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, opted to act on the TTFA’s League of Champions without board approval.

“We suspended the League of Champions because there was absolutely zero funding to continue it,” said Wallace. “When I asked the question as to how teams were travelling to Tobago [last] weekend, there was no answer; so I couldn’t wait for board approval to deal with that.

“I met with the clubs and they decided that they want to continue playing and they will condense the thing to one round and find the money to go ahead. So we are allowing the league to go ahead but we cannot fund it financially… There was no acrimony at all in our meeting.”

The John-Williams-led TTFA League of Champions promised to fund inter-island travel for its 12 teams as well as to pay TT$51,200 for each participant with TT$25,600 due at the start of the season, TT$12,800 payable at the end of the first round and another TT$12,800 due at the end of the season minus any applicable fines and sanctions.

However, not all clubs received even the first tranche of payments while, as Downer explained, the League of Champions was in trouble from almost the first match day.

Photo: Then TTFA board members (from left) Collin Partap, Selby Browne and Anthony Moore pose with cheque waving club representatives at the 2019 League of Champions launch.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA Media)

“They have not been paying referees for this so called League of Champions, so referees have not been turning up and all sorts of people have been refereeing games,” said Downer. “To me, for that reason alone the league should have been shut down. How can you have a national league being refereed by coaches and supporters? It is like a fete match.

“[…] When Selby Browne launched this league they stated they have this massive amount of money from Fifa and would pay a massive amount to clubs in three tranches. They paid them one but there was no money to pay the rest.

“Where has the money from the Fifa Forward programme gone?”

Even more controversial was the decision to include the Boys National Under-15 Team in the competition, which would presumably have been authorised by Elite National Teams coordinator Gary St Rose.

“What responsible football body will put under-15 boys to play with big men?” asked Downer. “Good god man; that was madness to start with! If Fifa hears about that it could be trouble you know because I think there is something in the Fifa statutes that deals with age group teams.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Abdul-Quddoos Hypolite (left) tries to create some magic for his team during TTFA Youth Invitational U-15 action against Venezuela at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 19 July 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

“They are not physiologically, physically or psychologically developed enough to play against hard muscled men. That is why you have under-15 and under-17 and under-20 competitions in the first place.”

Wallace called the inclusion of the Under-15 Team in the League of Champions as ‘highly dangerous and irresponsible’. The Under-15s did not feature in the opening two rounds and so were withdrawn without playing a match.

Wired868 asked St Rose, David and John-Williams to explain why they included the Under-15 Team in the adult competition and their role in the decision making process. Neither responded by the time of publication.

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