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Sport Ministry halts payment to Warrior coaches; Tim Kee explains delay

Despite a prior promise from the Government to pay the salaries of Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coaches, Sport Minister Brent Sancho confirmed to Wired868 that his ministry will not give a cent to the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) or any other sporting body without proof of financial order and responsibility.

Head coach Stephen Hart, assistants Hutson Charles and Derek King and the rest of the “Soca Warriors” staff have not been paid since February. And Sancho, a former World Cup 2006 player, insisted that the Sport Ministry would be unable to offer financial assistance until TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee provides audited books for scrutiny.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national head coach Stephen Hart (left) with assistants Hutson Charles (centre) and Derek King. (Courtesy Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago national head coach Stephen Hart (left) with assistants Hutson Charles (centre) and Derek King.
(Courtesy Wired868)

He said that the $9.9 million Cabinet note on behalf of the the TTFA, on 13 November 2014—which was done during the term of previous Sport Minister Rupert Griffith—comes with certain stipulations.

“For every single governing body that I have, the Ministry of Sport has made some sort of promise or gesture towards payment,” Sancho told Wired868. “But every body has also made a promise towards transparency and proper governance.

“Two hands must clap. They have their part to play and, if they don’t live up to it, the other hand cannot clap.”

TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee agreed with Sancho in principle and vowed to take the KPMG’s auditor to the Sport Ministry to prove that the football body was not trying to hide anything.

“I’m not looking for any favours,” said Tim Kee. “I said (to Sancho) if we don’t do what we are supposed to do to get the money, then don’t release any funds…

“(The audit) should be finished within two to three weeks. I hope to have meeting with the meeting and take (KPMG auditor) Robert (Reis) along so he will know I am not playing a ducking game.”

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)

But there was an interesting explanation with regards to the football body’s delay.

“(KPMG) requested information from the TTFA which we didn’t have,” the TTFA president told Wired868. “Some of that information was taken away by the (World Cup 2006) players after the court case.”

Thirteen World Cup 2006 players levied against the football body, three years ago, and seized equipment from the TTFA office on Donaldson Street, Port of Spain. Sancho was one of the players present for the raid as well as his advisor Kevin Harrison.

Incidentally, the supposedly missing information was not offered as an excuse for possible delays when TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips agreed to the Sport Ministry’s March deadline for the audit. Or when Tim Kee met Sancho in April and promised the financial documents within a week.

But it is, arguably, a reminder of the frayed history between the heads of the two bodies.

Tim Kee countered that the missing data had always hampered the auditors. But it was more problematic now due to the volume of information requested by the ministry.

Photo: Caledonia AIA and Guyana national football coach Jamaal Shabazz (centre) is allowed to leave with a bag of balls during the Soca Warriors' levy on the TTFF headquarters in 2012. Looking on (in the background) is current Sport Ministry advisor Kevin Harrison. (Courtesy Patricia "Brown Sugar" Smart)
Photo: Caledonia AIA and Guyana national football coach Jamaal Shabazz (centre) is allowed to leave with a bag of balls during the Soca Warriors’ levy on the TTFF headquarters in 2012.
Looking on (in the background) is current Sport Ministry advisor Kevin Harrison.
(Courtesy Patricia “Brown Sugar” Smart)

“There was an audit done last year for FIFA,” he said. “But FIFA only wanted an audit of the money they put in. The ministry wants a global audit for every cent (that goes into the Sport Ministry).”

The TTFA’s coaches, as always, are already suffering from the stand-off while it might extend to the players if funding is not guaranteed for their teams’ preparation. Hart, for one, hopes to resume training for the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup tournament at the end of this month while he also wants practice games next month.

Farcically, it appears that the TTFA’s new technical director Kendall Walkes also numbers among the unpaid coaching staff within one month of his new appointment.

Tim Kee suggested that Walkes, a former West Chester University coach, was hired on the presumption that the Ministry of Sport would pay half his salary. And Walkes began work just days after the TTFA missed its first deadline to provide audited statements to the ministry.

“Before, the Sportt Company took care of 50 percent of the remuneration (of the TTFA technical director) so this seems to be a new position by the ministry,” said Tim Kee. “But I don’t want to get into an argument about that… We have to work with that situation.”

Photo: New TTFA technical director and former National Senior Team player Kendall Walkes.
Photo: New TTFA technical director and former National Senior Team player Kendall Walkes.

Wired868 asked whether the TTFA approached the Ministry of Sport specifically about helping foot Walkes’ salary.

“The Minister made that statement (about stopping funding for football) only two weeks ago,” said Tim Kee, “so all (internal) conversations before would have included (the presumed) 50/50 arrangement with the Sport Ministry.”

So did the TTFA even fulfil its presumed obligation to pay half of Walkes’ salary?

“Mr Walkes hasn’t been paid a cent yet,” said Tim Kee.

Sancho said he had not seen a TTFA request to pay half of Walkes’ salary although he did not rule out the possibility that one was made to the Sportt Company. But he denied any responsibility for the remuneration of football’s new technical director.

“We have a disclaimer out,” said Sancho. “We said we are not responsible for any of the debts incurred by local governing bodies.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho. Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and chairman of local Pro League club, Central FC. (Courtesy SPORTT)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Sport Minister and Senator Brent Sancho.
Sancho is a former World Cup 2006 player and chairman of local Pro League club, Central FC.
(Courtesy SPORTT)

Tim Kee said he will meet with his general secretary today to discuss the football body’s debts, which include his current coaches and former employees like ex-technical director Anton Corneal and ex-coach Russell Latapy.

“I am having a meeting (today) with the person doing the accounts and Mr Phillips and the conversation and discussion is around all debts,” said Tim Kee. “I have asked for a list of all the creditors and will look at what we can deal with now which is not any huge amount. And, of course, the current coaches and technical staff are the front burner item…

“The TTFA should pay its coaches as a responsibility but (we have to say) may with all things being equal. It is a balancing act with the limited resources we have.”

As always, the shadow of former special advisor and Chaguanas West MP Jack Warner looms and blights the TTFA.

Last month, Justice Frank Seepersad ordered the TTFA to satisfy an unpaid debt of TT $1.2 million plus interest to Immamudin Baksh and his Graphix Advantage Limited (GAL) company for work related to the FIFA 2010 Under-17 Women’s Cup.

Photo: Ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar share a light moment during the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women's World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago. (Courtesy FIFA.com)
Photo: Ex-FIFA vice-president Jack Warner (left) and Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar share a light moment during the 2010 FIFA Under-17 Women’s World Cup in Trinidad and Tobago.
(Courtesy FIFA.com)

Seepersad slammed the suspicious nature of the deal negotiated by Warner, which included some free services, and urged the Integrity Commission to investigate.

“Inappropriate behaviour in public office has to be condemned and cannot be tolerated,” said Justice Seepersad. “Such arrangements undermine the integrity and independence of the office. A perception is thereby created that such arrangements are reflective of a situation where the provider of gratuitous service expects and/or receives remuneration in other unconventional ways.”

Still, the TTFA alone was ordered to pay the debt.

Tim Kee said the football body has lost another million (TT) in fees owed to FIFA, which dates back over a decade. The governing football body never tried to recoup that money while Warner was a FIFA vice-president. But they clearly are happy to do so now.

“FIFA deducted a huge amount of money (from our subvention) as their levy on match fees,” he said. “Every time, you host a national game there is a fee you have to pay and apparently that had not been paid for a long, long time. That deduction created some exchanges and anger from me…

“I will raise it with (FIFA president Sepp) Blatter.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (right) tries to wrestle the ball from Panama attacker Rolando Escobar during a friendly international at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago defender Sheldon Bateau (right) tries to wrestle the ball from Panama attacker Rolando Escobar during a friendly international at the Ato Boldon Stadium, Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

There was not all bad news for football, though.

Sancho said the Warriors coaches should receive outstanding match fees from the Sport Ministry within the next two weeks for the 2014 Caribbean Cup finals.

“What happened was payments for the (Caribbean Cup) group stage were approved but not up until the final,” he said. “So it is just about verifying who is staff and who isn’t and who deserves to be paid… There is nothing untoward but they are just making sure.

“I should have that done within a week and a half.”

The Sport Minister said the Pro League should also receive prize money for the 2013/14 season within the same time frame. DIRECTV W Connection won the million dollar first prize for that season.

“(The Pro League prize money) is being worked on as we speak,” said Sancho. “I hope it is out of the office by this week.”

Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: W Connection owner David John Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Sancho, in contrast to an earlier statement, admitted the Sport Ministry had received a budget from TTFA official William Wallace that covered the senior Warriors’ 2015 Gold Cup and 2018 World Cup campaigns.

No payments will be made before the TTFA presents audited statements. However, Sancho stopped short of promising to meet all the football body’s financial requests, regardless of the state of their books.

“At the end of the day. you have to understand that whatever is required by the federation must be put into proper perspective,” said the Sport Minister. “As much as they have grandiose plans, we must understand that, with oil princes dropping, we only have a limited amount of funds…

“Since I came in as minister, I have been looking closely at budgets from all governing bodies, not just football… It is not to second-guess the governing bodies but just to ask the question of if (the request) is a necessity as it relates to our financial scenario.”

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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72 comments

  1. When books cannot be found that says a lot but there needs to be a total overhaul of the TTFA let people who know how to give proper accountability run that body so it’s time Kelvin Jack and company get the chance to change things Mr Tim Kee and executive need to go.

  2. Yes. I do remember that. But I still find it a bit odd that it had not been a problem for three years. Maybe that says something. Maybe not.

  3. Ttfa claims the audit only focused on FIFA money expenditure

  4. This raid was done in 2012. The TTFA claimed that an audit was done for FIFA last year. So I’m unsure as to how much the TTFA’s accounts were affected if it did a FIFA audit last year.
    And why wasn’t it raised earlier or at any point over the last three years?

  5. Anyhow very Gd article
    It explained everything

  6. Mango and Bird could answer dat question

  7. Could someone explain to me how a raid after no audits were done can be blamed for no audits being done after the raid?

    • Audits WERE done after the levy (not a ‘raid’). Audits have been done for the period 2012 to present. Documents taken during the levy are affecting audits for the period 2010-2012… which Sancho wants included not because it has anything to do with Tim Kee (who came to power in 2012) but because it will help reveal info about WC monies.

  8. I didn’t realize Tim had funds to halt..

  9. Debbie Espinal and of course the Coaches like it so because they know that they are bootleg Coaches and don’t have a clue about Coaching especially when they have never coached any teams and won any championships like my real professional Coaches Stuart Charles Fevrier , Jamaal Shabazz and Terence William Fenwick but they are always picked to coach our National Youth teams eh and when they go to the tournaments they always embarrass our sweet country because they are competing against real professional Coaches abroad so you is the one who don’t know half the story. Them really good yes.

  10. Dion Sosa you are behaving like if it is all of the players do what you said eh, I have been defending our players since 1992 when I started the Players Association in Brooklyn NY even took this individual to court and won the case on their behalves , if Brent Sancho and the other players didn’t have the balls and finally exposed that corrupted Jack Warner and his cronies with respect to the kind of millions of dollars and businesses that he acquired over the years using our football in order to do so eh, nobody in our sweet country would have had any clue that have been going on for many many years now eh, that Professional team Mau Pau had an issue when they finally dropped out of the professional league eh and only to find out it was another organization that was using Mau Pau name as a front and when they tried to cheat the players with respect to their final earnings eh, We had to tell the players exactly what to do and as you know because of their lack of education and writing skills so I am not giving up on my players at home and the Players Association will be up and running in our sweet country it is all about the right timing. Them really good yes.

  11. So basically everybody don’t believe Tim Kee explanation that in order to provide a proper audit, he needed the info from the computers that the blacklisted Warriors had taken from the TTFF office? Is this true or not.

  12. Why is this man even involved in football ?? He has done nothing for T&T football only himself .

  13. Everyone need to be held accountable. Steups!

  14. Exactly its the families of the coaches who suffering while these idiots playing futsie with people lives

  15. Earl Mango Pierre you are so wrong to say the Coaches like it so because they getting to travel and have free rides. You don’t know half of the story. They have Wives and Children to mind but ah wasting my time with you. You on your own beat. SMH!

  16. Steuupppssss ah doh want to get vex but seriously Raymond Tim Kee

  17. Is Tim Kee suffering? No. Who is? Coaches and players. As usual. Talk done.

  18. Mango what is the purpose of a players association when the same players you represent go behind your back and stab you cause they afraid of the man all the association will be doing is wasting defending a bunch of idiots who have no balls 2 stand up 4 themselves and then look foolish when that same idiot who your fighting 4 back on good terms with the man

  19. Real thing again in this thread liking t

  20. When Brent Sancho, Shaka Hislop, Stern John, and the other players started the Football Players Association in order to take that corrupted Jack Warner and his cronies to court to get their well deserved millions eh, they should have carried it on and continue to put plenty pressure and expose that corrupted TTFA but I guess they had their own agendas to be doing what they are doing now but I am not giving up hope that it will be up and running to put a stop to all the madness that continues against our players the women and men and hopefully all the coaches in our sweet country can also get the Coaches Association up and running and also put a stop to all the madness the same just like how it is done in the America and other countries in the World and I dun talk. Them really good yes.

  21. The problem with our local coaches is that they love the football, the hype and flying to different countries staying at hotels, getting the attention from our sweet women the same as our players etc, etc and Tim Kee, Sheldon Phillips and the other corrupted officials knows that, so they don’t mind believing what is told to them by Tim Kee and Sheldon Phillips with respect to the late payments from the Sports Ministry while they get the millions from FIFA and the paying of our Coaches should always be included from those millions of monies. Them really good yes.

  22. Don’t give up though Debbie Espinal

  23. Note Kendall Tull: The TTFA complains that the Ministry of Sport hasn’t agreed to pay half of Kendall Walkes’ salary. Yet, the TTFA isn’t paying its half either.
    It is a tragicomedy.

  24. Arms thrown up in air. We going nowhere fast.

  25. Is any Government Ministry ever held accountible?? Ask the Auditor General so TTFA only following suit. Steups!

  26. The truth is that our coaches deserved a better administrative body. The question is: How do we get that?
    Maybe that is a question that even our national players and coaches should be asking themselves.

  27. Kendall, please tell me you weren’t oblivious to thie potential outcome!

  28. Them really good yes, uncle Earl

  29. What I don’t understand is this…..doesn’t these Coaches signs a contract with specific wording eh, knowing that they should never trust that corrupted TTFA especially with respect to what previous local Coaches went through before eh, and if they breaks the arrangement of how they want to be paid which I hope is at the end of every month eh, and if this isn’t done the corrupted TTFA can be taken to court eh, what am I missing here?

  30. Not holding any hope that we will address the issues actually because we the people not clear on what is right.

  31. The 2nd part of my comment is He’s smoking them out. I hope the minister sticks to his guns when it comes to the TTFA

  32. Not following you Savitri. What do you mean?

  33. Well as was stated in the Field of dreams video eh, the elections are coming up soon eh, so instead of all this talk and more talk eh, and it always seems that plenty of alyuh always have the solutions to fix our football problems eh, now is the time for the football revolution and fix the damn thing get rid of all who doesn’t belong in that present corrupted TTFA. and put the right folks that are really passionate about our players first, the sport and our sweet country.

  34. You only read half the comment there Kendall?

  35. It won’t get better if we continue to do the same things over and over. That is the definition of madness.

  36. And while he is at it eh ah wonder if meh Sports Minister Brent Sancho is also requesting the same accountability and transperancy from the Semi- Pro teams that also receives over $ 80,000 dollars a month from his Sports Ministry? Them to really good yes.

  37. It will get worst before it gets better. He is smoking them all out

  38. No Kendall Tull. Tim Kee suggested that the payments to Corneal and other former coaches will be “discussed” this afternoon.

  39. My only and foremost concern is the football and the backward spiral we in right now cause of ttfa and others and unless this BS stops expect dark days ahead for the football

  40. Kendall Tull, i guess thats why the minister is playing hardball with them

  41. No they have not he is suing them along with leonson lewis and so the story goes on the victims here will always be the players coaches and football in general while these idiots play the blame game with each other

  42. The corrupted TTFA isn’t to be trusted at all and they just want the government/ tax payers monies to continue their mismanagement as usual and go to the bank smiling. Them really good yes.

  43. They all need to go. Raze the damn thing to the ground and start over. Nobody currently involved should be allowed to be part of the new setup because they are all guilty for the current state of affairs.

  44. But Dion Sosa can you not see Tim Kee, Phillips and the TTFA playing politics to suit themselves. Sancho should squeeze their b**ls hard.

  45. Lasana Liburd – did the TTFA ever settle the outstanding amounts to Corneal et al?

  46. I agree totally but I believe after the fiasco with jack when the govt used 2 give money based on a budget given 2 them by ttfa I believe Mr 2 pull when he came into office decided against that policy and changed it 2 where the ministry would pay the coaches

  47. Dion Sosa – long before Sancho became Minister, coaches weren’t being paid. Are you saying that those coaches didn’t have families depending on them?

  48. The money goes in and nobody knows how it is spent but only the coaches and players suffering while the TTFA has zero accountability to anyone for anything. As a taxpayer, I cannot support that regardless of how much I like football.

  49. I understand what you are saying kendall ttfa in a mess but I am almost certain that arrangement of coaches being paid has been going on long before minister Oreo came in so my thing is if the coaches can prove their body of work done at the national level at least deal with them cause they all have families who depending on them

  50. Dion Sosa – I am not in favour of the government bypassing the duly constituted body to directly manage the affairs of football. That cannot be the answer.

  51. Minister Sancho should wring Tim Kee’s neck. On the other hand the whole football world in TT would now be owned by the GORTT

  52. If cricket can operate without being totally bankrolled by Govt, then why can’t football? It is the world’s biggest sport industry.
    I think the govt should help but not pay for the entire thing.

  53. Accountability..the minister is right on this score. I have noticed once again the shaky explanations given by Tim Kee on why he cannot fulfill his part of the process…

  54. Exactly Lasana. I don’t understand how football can’t make money to self sustain in Trinidad.

  55. But you are missing the point on thst it should not be up to the government to bail out the TTFA every single time. Coaches remain unpaid while Phillips collects a hefty salary despite having his role cut after the Millien debacle. They receive funds from FIFA and I haven’t heard anything about paying coaches from that. And they have been doing this for decades.

    I could care less about Sancho and I think his joining the current administration is lunacy. You cannot however put the blame of unpaid officials on his doorstep.

    Not trying to defend Sancho but I really don’t understand your position on this. You are of course entitled to your opinion.

  56. The coaches are the TTFA’s employees though. We can’t lose sight of that.
    I fully agree that Sancho was among the World Cup players who got a huge govt pay out last year. That was questionable.
    But how can the TTFA expect to hire coaches at whatever rate and then just sent the bill to taxpayers?

  57. Kendall tull what we are saying is paying the coaches is the responsibility of the ministry why can’t they call call hart barber and king in and sort them out privately I don’t think that is unreasonable they must have records 2 show they worked

  58. Well Kendall was warned about that corrupted TTFA and the way our local and foreign base Trini coaches are treated compared to all other foreign base Coaches , he sudda stay as the Technical Director where he was getting paid on time . Them really good yes.

  59. Kendall Tull you don’t know the whole story so doh go there. Doh give a shit about the TTFA but why is it it’s always the players and Coaches who have to suffer. Sancho have a short memory. Like he forget the shoe was on the other foot not too long ago.

  60. I don’t understand your stance on this Debbie. Are you suggesting that tax payers dollars should continue to be poured into the TTFA without any accountability? Are you saying that the TTFA should continue to engage employees with no way to pay them? Do keep in mind these guys just received US $750k from FIFA and nobody knows how those funds are being allocated.

  61. Too passionate about this. Will have to remove myself. Going and cool meh brain watching Barca beat up on Bayern. Cyah handle these losers who now come and back stabbing. Sancho day will come. Karma is a bitch.

  62. Still, I do believe that the TTFA got far too much laxity from Sport Ministries before. They should be made to account for their spending too.

  63. Why allyuh surprised that was expected when the sports min was waring with ttfa on a personal level you believe he would be big or mature enough 2 put aside those feelings and resentment towards them and play fair no way in hell

  64. since when they started keeping promises.

  65. Nasty, stinking So and So. Yes YOU Sancho. Yuh blasted sell out. So you now making the Coaches pay while you sitting pretty licking Kamla’s skirts.. You don’t care that part of it is your fault and prepared to let Football suffer because you got your 30 pieces of silver. There will be life after the elections and you will not be forgotten.

  66. Oh lawd! Time to take names and kick butt… Seems people are going to be held accountable.