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TTFA names committee to defuse Warriors’ strike threat; but no payment date

The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) has mandated a three-member committee to resolve a threat from the “Soca Warriors” to boycott their Copa America play off match against Haiti on 8 January 2016.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players celebrate during their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on 13 November 2015. From left are Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones, Kevan George, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Mekeil Williams. (Copyright AFP 2015/Johan Ordonez)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team players celebrate during their Russia 2018 World Cup qualifying win over Guatemala on 13 November 2015.
From left are Sheldon Bateau, Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones, Kevan George, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Mekeil Williams.
(Copyright AFP 2015/Johan Ordonez)

However, crucially, there is still no date set to pay the Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Football Team players and staff, just 10 days before they are set to enter camp to prepare for their January assignment.

The players and staff are owed match fees for last month’s Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala and United States as well as for an exhibition match against Nicaragua on October 13.

Yesterday, the new TTFA board, which is led by president David John-Williams, held its first board meeting. According to a release issued by the local football body, the board focused on issues related to its poor financial health.

The TTFA identified the delay in match fees as its most critical issue. But the football body did not set a date to pay off that debt.

Instead, a three-member committee, which comprised of John-Williams’ vice-presidents, Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and board member Samuel Saunders, was created to meet with the players’ representatives—captain Kenwyne Jones and vice-captain Jan-Michael Williams—to “negotiate a way forward.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (centre) holds off Nicaragua midfielder Elvis Figueroa during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 October 2015. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago captain Kenwyne Jones (centre) holds off Nicaragua midfielder Elvis Figueroa during international friendly action at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 13 October 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The release referred to the TTFA’s existing contract with its senior players and staff, which was negotiated by former president Raymond Tim Kee, as a ‘gentleman’s agreement’, as the promise was made orally and not supported by written documentation.

The TTFA’s stance attempts to force the players to the bargaining table earlier than they might have hoped. The Warriors simply want their contract to be honoured and the football body is believed to have the roughly TT$1.2 million necessary to settle their debt, after a packed venue against the United States on November 17 in Port of Spain.

It is uncertain whether the football body intends to convince them that they must wait in line until other debts are settled. Or if the John-Williams administration intends to use its supposed position of strength to force through a new arrangement for smaller match fees.

The delay could conceivably impact on the Warriors’ Copa America preparation, as it leaves coach Stephen Hart unable to select a squad to begin training on December 27 or book plane tickets to get requested overseas-based players back to Trinidad.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Trinidad and Tobago head coach Stephen Hart (centre) makes a point while midfielders Ataulla Guerra (right) and Khaleem Hyland look on during a practice session in March.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

However, the TTFA might argue that its action is the most responsible one possible as the football body pursues its own formula in terms of debt settlement.

With just one week before Christmas, it is uncertain when the TTFA’s three-member committee will meet the players’ representatives, Jones and Williams (JM). The meeting is expected to happen before the end of the week, though.

Thus far, the Trinidad and Tobago players and staff have declined comment on the TTFA’s stance and are said to be curious as to the need for a meeting.

The following is the full press release issued by the TTFA:

The new administration of the Trinidad & Tobago Football Association held its first Board meeting yesterday. The Board had to address many pressing issues arising from the poor financial health of the Association, as mentioned previously, and lack of documentation.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) shakes hands with SPORTT Company chairman Michael Phillips (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith looks on. (Courtesy TTFA Media)
Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) shakes hands with SPORTT Company chairman Michael Phillips (left) while Sport Minister Darryl Smith looks on.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

The most critical issue the Board focused on was the stance taken by the National Senior Team (Men). The players, frustrated by the delay in receiving match fees that they were promised under a ‘Gentleman’s Agreement’ by the previous administration, announced that they will not participate in the COPA America qualifying match scheduled for January 8, 2016 in Panama City.

In recognition of the urgency of this matter the Board has mandated a three-person committee comprising of board members (Ms Joanne Salazar, Mr Samuel Saunders and Mr Ewing Davis), to meet with the players’ representatives and negotiate a way forward.

The Board has given the committee a clear mandate with instructions to resolve the matter as soon as possible. To this end we communicated with the identified players’ representatives (team captain Kenwyne Jones and vice captain Jan-Michael Williams) last evening.

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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46 comments

  1. Some ppl does real write tata. Well allyuh go and wuk for free nah. Bet money DJW not wuking for free. SMDH!!!!

  2. Same shit different President. So much for change. Is pressure all de way for the boys. They just can’t seem to catch a break.

  3. I believe in representing my country with all the honor and pride possible but I also believe that when a person puts in an honest day’s work they should be paid for it , we are all professionals in various fields and we know what it’s like to have pride in our jobs but we also like to be paid for our efforts. Please let’s try to expedite this matter and implement measures to ensure that this problem doesn’t occur in the future and I’m sure we’ll make it to many World Cups to come because I know these guys are willing,talented and able.

  4. Like PRIDE does put food on table. Steups!!

  5. If it is about seizing power away from the players, then the TTFA might have made an astute short term move.
    That’s if the players are bluffing. Although djw probably thinks they have sufficient time to haggle anyway.
    Hart probably wouldn’t agree.
    Not sure about the long term benefits of this stance though. It might cost new board goodwill.
    And it really seems like a gamble either way.

    • To me the bottom line is outside of FIFA funding, I would presume that over 80%(no data for this) of the TTFA funding comes from sources that only generate revenue when the players play a match i.e. gate receipts, donations, sponsorship agreements, television revenue, etc. If the association has debts of 5 Million, how will they retire that debt other than primarily having a successful team playing matches to garner all revenue associated with match play. If I own a bar with debt of 5 million, suddenly Carib and Angostura decide to stop supplying me. Who has the power? Who has the problem? Carib and Angostura have other bars to sell, TTFA can get other players but no one will pay for what is perceived as a second rate team. DJW in a bizarre negotiation tactic, told the players that they have income from their clubs so its not that bad(my paraphrase). The players probably could not stop laughing because the natural turn about is what income does the TTFA have without the players. I hear, that the TTFA internal debt retirement policy may preclude them from paying the players first. If that is the case, the policy should be changed because debt retirement only happens with revenue generated mainly by playing matches.
      Regardless, I think the players timing is poor but maybe they felt it important to set the tone with the new Board as to what the priorities should be.

      • Lasana Liburd

        I agree wholeheartedly. I fully understand the TTFA’s position. But treat a football match like a big concert. Patrons pay to see the performers who are the players.
        Who gets paid first for every concert?
        Performers usually take half before the show and half before they step on to the stage.
        Everyone else who has to be paid is the promotor’s problem. That is why it isn’t an easy job I suppose.

  6. I’ll say it again….delaying tactics. DJW’s first few steps as TTFA head have been stumbles to put it nicely

  7. The very first hurdle is to determine whether Tim Kee’s offer is binding and enforceable. If it was understood that then president made the offer in good faith and although made verbally, the terms and conditions were clear and accepted, then the present administration should honour that commitment.
    The presence of Saunders, attorney at law, on the FA team is instructive and therefore the players also should seek legal advice on the way forward.

  8. Kenwyne knows the structure agreed in 2006 when he was the youngster. This may be prompting him to follow suit.

  9. Not so drastic… the players worked. look for a solution to play

  10. So far, even the senior players are suggesting that they think a flat fee is more just. Will see what happens.

  11. So Bruce, you’d say that if the players want to keep the current flat fee system then that is what should happen?

  12. Lasana, there is nothing wrong with having a scale of fees depending on the number of International games played. It is all a question of what the players want. Once everybody is on board with the structure, and the details are documented and signed by the current squad, then that is fine. It is important that every new player coming on board also sign the agreement to ensure no problems going forward.

  13. Well, I’m interested to hear the rationale behind a new proposal that pays match fees according to international experience.
    I’m sure there must be some rationale behind it eh. I would just like to hear it.

  14. Sorry, yes it was a flat rate for all.

  15. The only time caps and games played were used was to determine how to share the qualification bonus. The structure was agreed by the player representatives and the manager, documented and signed by every player who was part of the campaign.

  16. But was it a flat rate for all the players Bruce? Or was it dependent on how many caps you had?

  17. Chabeth, there was an agreement for appearance fees in warm up games, and clearly defined fees in World Cup qualifiers for a win, draw and loss, both for players and staff. Everyone was paid what was due to them.
    After qualification the fees were renegotiated and paid accordingly. No one was left out.

  18. Hey Bruce Aanensen, can I ask you… While you were manager did all the players get paid the same amount per match? And what are your views on paying players differently based on time played, length of time as a national player etc? If you don’t mind sharing… Thanks.

  19. Thanks Bruce. Let me make a small correction though. The TTFA DID contest the 50% figure. They said in court that Jack Warner was speaking out of the exuberance of their goalless draw against Sweden and that he was not authorised to enter into that deal on behalf of the TTFA.
    The court dismissed both defences. After that, they fell back on the “after net expenses” defence which failed too.

  20. Lasana and Carlos, let me correct you. The money issue with the 2006 players was not a verbal agreement. It was clearly outlined in a memo from the Manager to Mr. Warner after meetings with the player representatives. The issue was that the memo clearly stated
    30 % of All” revenue from commercial and sponsorship agreements along with donations.
    The issue began when the TTFF decided that the agreement was net of expenses which it was not. The 30% was upgraded to 50% by Mr Warner the day after the game against Sweden.A copy of the memo was used to have the court of arbitration rule in favor of the players. Mr. Warner never contested the 50% but insisted that it was net of expenses. The TTFF also did not disclose “ALL” income and the court ruled arbitrarily on an amount which was accepted by the players.
    I will saw again, all agreements with players in 2005 and 2006 under my management were documented and applied with the exception of the contested amounts.

  21. they will not make a date yet come on they just selected a committee.,

  22. Whether it is binding or not… The players were promised their fees and have not been paid… All other FAs pay their players, except In TT.. DJW cannot be trusted… He needs to settle it in time for camp and get the players minds focused on Haiti… Spending legal fees and going through all of that now is ridiculous and time consuming and takes away from our World Cup campaign.. DJW should have never been elected, I wanted everyone about this man.. Pay the players and let’s support our national team…

  23. This is a delay tactic….great start DJW ?

  24. I believe I saw Radanfah at the stadium last night. I’m guessing his intent is to be part of the training camp? Was the camp supposed to be here Lasana?

  25. Fair point Carlos. Although most of the delay was about the TTFF’s refusal to show the books. But true.

  26. Yes – but after many years and numerous court hearings. I’m sure you would agree that it’s simpler just to pull out your signed contract and say it wasn’t honored.

  27. But remember the court upheld that verbal agreement for the 2006 World Cup eh.

  28. Lol. Tim Kee made a gentleman’s agreement with the players? Hmmm! Does anyone recall issues prompted by a similar agreement that Jack W. made with the players back in 2006? Looks like the fellas didn’t learn from the past. Get things in writing. A Trini man’s word has absolutely no value???? Trini men speak with fork tongues??? Anyway – the TTFA should show good faith in this negotiations by committing to at least pay half of what is owed to the players within 1 week, with the other half due at a date in the not too distant future. The players in turn should accept the offer and work with the administration to construct and implement new written contracts going forward. No more gentleman’s agreement please!

  29. Very slow start is an insult to the tortoise, Lasana.
    DJW didn’t move slow when he got Maylee and Sharon in a room and wanted to look like a saviour.
    Didn’t care about being strong armed by players then either and that was Maylee refusing to play under a TTFA selected manager. He just wanted Maylee available for a tournament. A tournament we don’t know was agreed to by whom or by what method.
    Imagine if Kenwyne had given the TTFA whatever people considered “a reasonable amount of time.”
    All I will say is Kenwyne knows who he’s dealing with and why he’s guiding his team the way he’s guiding them yes…

  30. You and those piercing questions Chabeth! Lol. Yes, the TTFA is off to a very slow start on this although it keeps using language like “critical” and “emergency” and “priority.”
    I now suspect that the TTFA wants to make a point of not being strong-armed by the players.

  31. It took the TTFA a week to come up with this committee? Lol. There wasn’t an emergency meeting? What was decided at that meeting? Just to issue the previous media release?
    Are any of the people on this committee former national players?
    “Gentleman’s agreement” reads passive aggressive to me.
    A definitive date wouldn’t have been needed to be given had the TTFA handled this matter properly.
    And again, if this was the first board meeting, who decided to send the women’s team to Brazil? And is it the norm for team participation in tournaments to be a board decision or is that just my misunderstanding?

  32. Well, the players made an early threat and the TTFA is clearly showing that it will not be led by its players. So let’s see what happens next.

  33. But then that means the quality of the team drops. And that means results drop, fans drop, sponsors lose interest and your FIFA ranking dips and you can’t move players to Britain.
    Is all that worth it?

  34. ..I would not ask to be elected. That said, the electorate chose people who have to look for money. Not people who have real money or have access to the sources of real money. One million dollars in not much in the world of business. So the problems continue..

  35. You have massive debts and 4 or 5 million in the kitty. You owe the players and staff 1.2 million… What would you do Keith?

  36. ..New national and football administrations begging for understanding and time. Where is the promised new football money coming from? Government?.m

  37. Pay them then select an entirely new team. They are not interested in representing their country.