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Sancho tackles TTFA: Tim Kee must use gate receipts to pay players

Sport Minister Brent Sancho has made his opening gambit in the Government’s new relationship with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) by setting the football body an ultimatum in presenting its accounts for inspection as well as taking a more hands-on approach in State-funded international matches.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (second from left) runs at Antigua and Barbuda players (from left) Keiran Murtagh, Akeem Thomas and Quinton Griffith during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago midfielder Kevin Molino (second from left) runs at Antigua and Barbuda players (from left) Keiran Murtagh, Akeem Thomas and Quinton Griffith during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The most immediate test of the fledgling relationship will come on Friday March 27 when the Senior National Men’s team host Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.

The Sport Ministry has agreed to fund the international warm-up game, which is part of the team’s 2015 Gold Cup preparations. But there is a catch.

Sancho wants the TTFA to agree to a double-header that gives the Senior National Women’s Team an opportunity to be involved as well. And the Sport Ministry wants the football body to agree to give 50 percent of gate receipts to players and staff for match fees and stipends.

Sancho, who started all three games for Trinidad and Tobago at the Germany 2006 World Cup, told Wired868 that he was concerned about the stagnation of the “Women Warriors” who were just minutes away from a historic Canada 2015 World Cup place before a 1-0 FIFA Play Off defeat to Ecuador last December.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players Kennya Cordner (right) and Anique Walker head for the dressing room after their 1-0 FIFA 2015 Women's Cup Play Off second leg defeat to Ecuador on December 2 in Port of Spain. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago players Kennya Cordner (right) and Anique Walker head for the dressing room after their 1-0 FIFA 2015 Women’s Cup Play Off second leg defeat to Ecuador on December 2 in Port of Spain.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“I think it is a travesty to know that these girls have not kicked a ball since the Ecuador game,” said Sancho. “Some of these girls can play in the next World Cup (campaign) because of their age; and it will be a travesty if we wait until another Ecuador game to start funding this team.

“They are not training and there is no program is existence. We want to assist.”

The fledgling Sport Minister said his body will look through the list of nations that have sporting memorandum of understandings with Trinidad and Tobago and then attempt to negotiate through the relevant State bodies to get the W/Warriors a sparring partner.

Sancho said the TTFA, once it agrees, will be party to the talks. At present, the women’s friendly is described as “tentative” due to the logistics of the affair.

Photo: Minister of Sport Brent Sancho. (Courtesy Central FC)
Photo: Minister of Sport Brent Sancho.
(Courtesy Central FC)

More eye opening is Sancho’s plan to launch a three-month long women’s professional league, which will be run by the Ministry of Sport and should kick off in May 2015.

The Sport Minister did not reveal the proposed cost for the project, which would merge with the current Women’s League Football (WOLF), or a minimum wage for players. But he estimated that it would cost between TT$500,000 to TT$700,000 a year to run a “franchise”, which is inclusive of salaries, running costs and promotions. (Click HERE to read more).

Unsurprisingly, there are doubts within the women’s football fraternity about the feasibility of starting a professional league in less than four months,

And the TTFA may be even less enthused with the Sport Ministry’s new insistence that it be shown match contracts for games that it subsidises. Sancho also wants the Ministry to be part of a joint operation at the gates for matches and retain half of the football body’s revenue to pay the “Soca Warriors” players and coaches.

In June 2014, the Government spent $2.1 million for an international friendly between the “Soca Warriors” and Argentina in Buenos Aires. However, at least $400,000 of taxpayers’ dollars vanished under a still unexplained line item called a “TTFA licensing fee.”

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)

TTFA marketing officer Darren Millien was accused of improperly diverting the money although the matter is now supposedly under investigation.

And, in December 2014, the Government dipped into the Treasury again to pay the national footballers for owed match fees, which included payments for their South American tour.

Sancho believes his new proposal would help to avoid a repeat of such scandals and situations where taxpayers fund international games and pay players while the football body keeps all the profit.

“Match contracts will have to be part and parcel of our agreements,” Sancho told Wired868. “We are mindful of the fact that we are spending lots of taxpayers dollars and we have to account for it…

“We are looking into the possibility of gate sharing where half of the gates will go back to players’ stipends and coaches’ stipends and players’ match fees and coaches’ match fees.

“They haven’t said they accept it yet but it is a sponsorship agreement and this is what we want.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre) gestures to an Ecuador player while Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) has a word to her grandson before kick off of the FIFA Play Off second leg on 2 December 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The Sport Ministry and TTFA should meet again on Friday March 6 to discuss this and other relevant matters.

Notably, the gate receipts eyed by the Sport Ministry will be used to pay current players and coaches but not past ones. Sancho, who wants a joint operations between the two bodies at the gates for matches subsidised by the Government, said the TTFA must pay its own debts.

“We have heard from (TTFA general secretary Sheldon) Phillips that they have plans to come out from their debt and move things forward,” said Sancho. “We would like to see those plans (but) it is something that lies with the TTFA and they will have to figure out how to pay their debts.

“And it is not just them, there are other sporting organisations that seem to rack up debts. As the old folks say, they seem to have champagne taste with beer money and they have to stop these high living lifestyles and come to reality.

“That is the response I am looking for from organisations. They have to now live in reality and not try to live way beyond their means.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago scorer Kevin Molino (far left) leads teammates Hughtun Hector (second from left) and captain Kenwyne Jones (second from right) in a goal dance during 2014 Caribbean Cup qualifying action against Antigua and Barbuda.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The irony is that Sancho is one of 13 World Cup 2006 players who benefited from Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar’s decision to underwrite a TTFA debt to them in June 2014. The Government payment was made without prejudice to the 2006 Warriors’ case against the TTFA, which, arguably, allows the players to go on with their lawsuit against the football body.

“I have taken up a post to represent the people of Trinidad and Tobago,” said Sancho, “so I have to respect that post and recuse myself from being part and parcel of anything to do with the (2006 World Cup bonus) case.”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is also the Port of Spain Mayor and PNM Treasurer, was a senior vice-president before, during and after the 2006 World Cup and openly derided Sancho’s stance on the dispute in the past.

Sancho admitted that the two have not met since he became Sport Minister but insisted it has not affected his relationship with the football body.

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a rare happy moment between the trio in 2013. Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee (centre), ex-2006 World Cup player Brent Sancho (right) and TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips address the media during a rare happy moment between the trio in 2013.
Sancho was announced as the Sport Minister in February 2015.
(Courtesy Wired868)

“I have met (TTFA officials) Sheldon Phillips and William Wallace but not Tim Kee,” said the Sport Minister. “He must be a busy man… I have met all the (sporting) presidents except Raymond Tim Kee but I’ve been most generous with football.

“We are working feverishly to get them that parcel of land so they can get their Goal project and we are also assisting them with both their World Cup and Cup (preparations).”

Sancho told Wired868 that he gave the TTFA a March deadline to present its accounts to the Ministry of Sport so the Government can understand the financial health of a body that essentially survives on State funds.

“We want to see their full detailed accounts,” said Sancho, “and we are aware of the funding given to them by FIFA and maybe Concacaf as well. So we expect to see that as a line item in their accounts and we want to know what they have planned for it.

“We are not going to tell them how to spend their money. That’s for sure. That is not my business. But as long as they show a certain amount of transparency and accountability, like every other sporting organisation, they will have no problem with me.”

Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is a member of the FIFA Futsal Committee, tries out the furniture at the global football body's Zurich headquarters.
Photo: TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee, who is a member of the FIFA Futsal Committee, tries out the furniture at the global football body’s Zurich headquarters.

But, due to his role in a legal financial matter against the TTFA, did Sancho feel—despite his vow to recuse himself—there was a potential conflict of interest in his access to the football body’s accounting books?

“I won’t say it is a conflict of interest,” said Sancho. “I think it just gives me a better understanding, than any other Sport Minister who sat in this chair, of accounts and financing as it relates to football because obviously that is the sport that I have come from.

“The reason we are asking for the accounts is because it is part of of our policy for all sporting bodies. So I have an obligation to the Ministry and the general public to do my job. I won’t be passing information on to anybody but I am not going to hand out funds without disclosure.”

 

Editor’s Note: Wired868 will publish the first part of an extensive and exclusive interview with Sport Minister Brent Sancho on Friday March 6.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the CEO and Editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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25 comments

  1. The man is right enough is enough how many more the players have to suffer and the TTFA got all the money and say is missing and don’t know what happen

  2. So what did you expect from the “Mama of Mamaguy’

  3. Another ad hoc measure no long term strategy just a cosmetic action……election close,the Minister is a politician remember that he has to toe the party line where country development in this season stands we not sure .

  4. Can someone find out from this arsehole if the balls and others things taken from the ttff was given back to them ,if not why. When got the Bailiff to take them from a court order, He got the money from the Government which he says is his FRIEND. So what taxpayers have to pay YOU again,Once the players get money HE getting TOO say I lie

  5. I distanced myself from supporting local football after 1989 and Jack’s thumbing of his nose at the Lionel Seemungal CoE. I noted that T&T Soccer was invariably offered up as sacrifice for Jack’s elevation. Every time we lost Jack moved up FIFA’s corporate ladder. Just check out his trajectory…..

  6. The same FIFA that congratulated Warner when he became a Minister? FIFA has no consistent stance on anything apart from hiding corruption.
    Nothing being done here by the Ministry of Sport is unprecedented by a FIFA member association.
    You can question the sense or practicality of it. But if FIFA comes calling, it won’t have anything to do with right or wrong.

  7. What is FIFAs position re Governments and politicians interfering in the running of the affairs of soccer?

  8. We are the richest nation in the region, 1.3 million, and the revenue from resources. Gentlemen

  9. To make the aforementioned become a realityGovernment and private sponsors along with community support. the first year we will start with8 teams, they are as follows; Real Dimension, Trincity Nationals Fc, Central f.c., Army, Police, Malick City Football Club and a south base team. N.B. Army and Police are already paid therefore you only have to provide payment for 6 teams. ‘To whom it is Given much is expected’.

  10. Cuba or Puerto Rico? Dominican Republic? wealth by which measure? PPP?

  11. honestly Gentlemen, the richest nation in the region has to be the example for Women Development Semi-Pro or Professional Football will be a start, create a facility for Women Sports, football, cricket, etc., Semi pro league, each team will have a u-12, u-16, u-18 teams.

  12. Just a thought Pro League going on …where they getting grounds suitable for professional women footballers and what about officials?

  13. fact is that most of the female players ain’t read for that. we should look at other developmental models. a pro league with nothing to feed it is going to dry up in no time flat.

  14. Lets push for a Women semi-pro to professional league

  15. Starting to develop at the wrong end

  16. It is the Prime Minister who helped keep it open by paying the players “without prejudice” to the ongoing case. So she is not in the dark.
    However, Sancho explained that he recused himself from the matter.

  17. If the Soca Warrior case against the TTFA is still open, should the Minister not have informed the Prime Minister and declined to accept the ministerial post??

  18. Until Trinidadians respect the business aspect of sport everything is free! Free players, free coaches, free money in somebody brown envelope.

  19. No problem but how much people go be in the stadium?

  20. Can anyone spell……..conflict of interest……..Smfh

  21. Scotty Ranking

    I feel this is a huge conflict of interest here. Until the legal matter between the 2006 World Cup players (Sancho included) and the TTFA is fully and completely resolved, Sancho’s current position as Sports Minister is a serious problem. Whatever happens to the TTFA under his ministerial tenure will have a stain on it, whether he wants to acknowledge it or not. And, just an aside, has he fully resigned from his private positions at Central FC, as would be required to take up a government ministerial appointment?

    • Hannibal Najjar

      Scotty has raised some very valid points here. As for the Minister’s resignation from Central, it ought to be a must but one never knows – the current Administration did not ask Jack to resign nor did he see it be something that he should be called to live by – his “ways and means committee” has suggested that because of his absolute power, tactical knowhow, and swashbuckling operatives in all of his involved circles and situations, he may be the one to be given exemption – some say, why not – if there is anyone who can dance between all types of weather it is Jack. I also wish to urge the Minister not to cast any indictment on the current T&TFA body that is itself, trying to wriggle its way out of the “legacy” that the previous leadership left, this even which Tim Kee, himself was a part of. Some believe that the Mayor is now trying to survive its backlash and is doing his best amidst his many duties (no different than his former Federation boss). The T&TFA’s problem is one that that took decades of mutation for it to reach where it is, and I suggest, that it will do Sancho well not to try to rectify in “Flash Gordon” style. His focus should be to establish himself in the public’s mind as one who understands the history and sees the magnitude of the problem. He has to demonstrate that he is interested in building confidence and trust with and within all segments of society so that the recovery can be as swift as needed and one that is lasting so that our road to recovery can take an uninterrupted and exponentially growing path.