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Central sack Marvin Oliver; veteran playmaker lifts lid on “toxic” Sharks

Pro League defending champions, Central FC, parted company with their veteran midfield star and former captain, Marvin Oliver, in controversial fashion this morning  at the Mannie Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella.

Photo: Comunicaciones midfielder Jorge Aparacio (left) grapples with Central FC star Marvin Oliver during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Comunicaciones midfielder Jorge Aparacio (left) grapples with Central FC star Marvin Oliver during 2015 CONCACAF Champions League action.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The evergreen Oliver, who turns 41 in August and was the club’s best player last season, was handed an oddly worded termination letter by Central manager Kevin Jeffrey and allegedly told not to join his teammates on the training ground.

Oliver’s contract with the club runs until 31 May 2016.

Bizarrely, the Pro League club claimed that it was Oliver who asked to be released.

The termination letter was not signed by club chairman Brent Sancho or operations manager Kevin Harrison and suggested that the player wanted to leave the “Couva Sharks.”

“Team manager Kevin Jeffrey has informed me that you have requested the club to terminate (sic) your contract as you wish to move to a new club,” stated the letter, which bore the name of head coach Dale Saunders but no signature. “While this news has saddened me as you are very much an important member of the squad, I have no wish to retain your services if you are no longer comfortable with the team…

“It is with great reluctance that I will accede to your request and arrange for your release, effective today.”

Photo: St Ann's Rangers coach Angus Eve (left) and Central FC coach Dale Saunders gesture during 2015/16 Pro League action. (Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)
Photo: St Ann’s Rangers coach Angus Eve (left) and Central FC coach Dale Saunders gesture during 2015/16 Pro League action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

Sancho and his former 2006 World Cup teammate, Stern John, were both on the training ground where they now serve as assistant coaches to Saunders. None spoke to Oliver and Jeffrey allegedly warned him not to approach the group during the session.

Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to get comment on the termination letter from Central FC management.

Oliver, who helped Central to their first Pro League and Caribbean Cup titles last year, said he felt set up, victimised and mistreated by the Sharks’ management.

On Wednesday 16 September 2015, Oliver was among 24 players who wrote to Central’s then board of directors and urged them not to reinstate Sancho and Harrison—former Sport Minister and advisor to the Sport Minister respectively—until they were cleared of several allegations related to their conduct at the club.

At the time, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) was investigating Sancho and Harrison regarding their: conduct with regards to the transfers of Central FC forward Rundell Winchester, the signing of then 16-year-old winger Levi Garcia, and the alleged misappropriation of CONCACAF funds and non-payment of bonuses to Central players.

The TTFA’s investigations have stalled under new president David John Williams.

Photo: Central FC chairman Brent Sancho welcomes Bankers Insurance CEO Vance Gabriel into the club's fold as a sponsor in January 2015. Gabriel returned the favour by helping restore Sancho to the helm of the Pro League club, after his defeat in the polls at the September 7 general elections.
Photo: Central FC chairman Brent Sancho welcomes Bankers Insurance CEO Vance Gabriel into the club’s fold as a sponsor in January 2015.
Gabriel returned the favour by helping restore Sancho to the helm of the Pro League club, after his defeat in the polls at the September 7 general elections.

The players’ stance was ineffective as, with the help of Bankers Insurance CEO Vance Gabriel, Sancho and Harrison seized control of the club.

Oliver and Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams were both subsequently quizzed by Sancho about their role in the players’ petition that sought to keep them at bay.

Oliver ran afoul of Central management again after the 2015 First Citizens Cup final on October 30, as he was among several players fined five percent of their salaries—without a hearing—for not collecting medals.

Central gave the veteran midfielder a one week suspension on top of the fine for tossing the disciplinary letter to the ground in disgust.

Over the past week, Oliver claimed he was frozen out of the first team and watching from the sidelines as Saunders worked on his shadow drills for the Pro League squad.

Photo: Central FC veteran Marvin Oliver (centre) and striker Willis Plaza (third from right) enjoy a light moment on the substitutes' bench during a Pro League outing in the 2013/14. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC veteran Marvin Oliver (centre) and striker Willis Plaza (third from right) enjoy a light moment on the substitutes’ bench during a Pro League outing in the 2013/14.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The elegant, versatile midfielder was initially left out of the 22-man squad to face rivals, DIRECTV W Connection, on Sunday but subsequently received a late call-up and was an unplayed substitute for the game, which ended 1-1.

After the game, Oliver said he approached Saunders and Jeffrey and asked whether he was in their plans as a player. And, if not, whether a loan away from the team was possible.

“After the game, I asked if there were any plans for me because I could just sit on the bench and collect money but I wanted to contribute,” said Oliver. “I said they could send me on loan for the rest of the season if they had no plans for me. They told me to talk to Brent (Sancho) about it and I said I don’t need to do that but if I got an offer (from another club) I will tell him.

“The last thing Dale told me was ‘don’t worry yourself’. Then I come this morning to train and Kevin Jeffrey hand me a letter saying my contract was terminated.”

Oliver vowed to contest the dismissal and will fight for the TT$6,000 owed to him in wages plus the remaining worth of his contract, which is an additional TT$40,000.

Photo: Central FC Marvin Oliver (right) is presented with a Ruby Tuesday gift certificate as Wired868's 2014/15 Player of the Year by Wired868 director of operations Lou-Ann Sankar. North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw was also honoured as Wired868's Young Player of the Year. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC Marvin Oliver (right) is presented with a Ruby Tuesday gift certificate as Wired868’s 2014/15 Player of the Year by Wired868 director of operations Lou-Ann Sankar.
North East Stars midfielder Neveal Hackshaw was also honoured as Wired868’s Young Player of the Year.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“This is an embarrassment,” Oliver told Wired868. “I can walk away from football now but they have to pay me. They are real disrespectful.”

The bean-pole Rastafarian lashed out at his former employers and said that players were subjected to a toxic atmosphere at Central. He claimed that Williams, who asked to be replaced as club captain, was was also being victimised.

Oliver called Sancho a hypocrite for his supposedly oppressive approach to footballers, despite being one of the founding members of the defunct Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT).

“Those fellahs don’t mean good to young players,” said Oliver. “I can say plenty about what goes on at Central but the Father says a still tongue is better. What happened today hurt but the joy is greater. I can walk with my head high.

“I know Brent (Sancho) from when we played National Under-12 together. Dale Saunders and I played National Under-23 football and Stern John and I played in the EFA (Eastern Football Association) together.

Photo: Former Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.  (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Former Sport Minister Brent Sancho (second from right) is flanked by ex-Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar (right) and former World Cup 2006 star Stern John during the opening of the Irwin Park Sporting Complex in Siparia in 2015.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

“Now, they can’t watch me in my face. They got opportunities I didn’t get as a player but I have more class than those fellahs.”

Although Oliver, who has a CONCACAF licence for grassroots coaching, faces an uncertain future, he said he was happy to leave the work environment at Central, which, he claimed, steadily worsened after the departures of former coaches Terry Fenwick and Zoran Vranes allowed Sancho and Harrison more hands-on opportunities with the playing squad.

“To tell you the truth, I feel good to come away from this environment,” Oliver told Wired868. “The good I feel in my spirit is I don’t have to pray with evil people every morning. It is like freedom. Like I am out of prison after 50 years and chains just come off of me.

“I gave them everything. But God knows best and this is how this has to end.

“I was helping their empire to stand up and I am glad that I am free of that.”

Oliver was one of just two survivors from Central’s first Pro League match on 19 October 2012 along with defender Keion Goodridge.

Photo: North East Stars utility player Kennedy Hinkson (left) pressures Central FC sweeper Marvin Oliver during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final in Couva. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: North East Stars utility player Kennedy Hinkson (left) pressures Central FC sweeper Marvin Oliver during the 2014 First Citizens Cup final in Couva.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Former World Cup 2006 attacker, Anthony Wolfe, scored a penalty that afternoon as the Sharks got off to a winning start under former Chelsea coach Graham Rix.

Oliver played for five coaches at Central, as Rix was succeeded by Fenwick, Vranes, Ross Russell and current head coach, Saunders. The former San Juan North student was recently selected among the Secondary Schools Football League’s (SSFL) best players over its initial 50-year history.

(Central team against Police FC on 19 October 2012)

Central FC (4-1-4-1): 1.Marvin Phillip (GK); 2.Dylon Charles, 6.Marc Leslie, 3.Keion Goodridge (26.Quincy Charles 78), 24.Akeem Adams; 10.Marvin Oliver; 7.Hayden Tinto (17.Shaquille Nesbitt 74), 15.Sayid Freitas, 18.Cyrano Glen (20.Darryl Trim 62), 14.Tyrone Charles; 9.Anthony Wolfe (captain).

Unused substitutes: 13.Shane Mattis (GK), 12.Simba Aberdeen, 16.Carey Harris, 19.Adrian Noel.

Coach: Graham Rix

Photo: Central FC players (from left) Elton John, Yohance Marshall and captain Marvin Oliver pose with the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield trophy. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)
Photo: Central FC players (from left) Elton John, Yohance Marshall and captain Marvin Oliver pose with the 2014 Lucozade Sport Goal Shield trophy.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

(Oliver’s trophy haul with Central FC)

2013/14: First Citizens Cup, Lucozade Sport Goal Shield

2014/15: Caribbean Club Championship, Pro League title, Digicel Pro Bowl, First Citizens Cup, Rawle Fletcher Cup, Akeem Adams Cup, Kevon Carter Cup

2015/16: Digicel Charity Shield, First Citizens Cup

Photo: Veteran Central FC midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) gives referee Gyasi McDonald his yellow card back during the 2013/14 Pro League season. (Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)
Photo: Veteran Central FC midfielder Marvin Oliver (left) gives referee Gyasi McDonald his yellow card back during the 2013/14 Pro League season.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/ Wired868)

(Central FC’s termination letter)

Dear Marvin,

Team manager Kevin Jeffrey has informed me that you have requested the club to terminate (sic) your contract as you wish to move to a new club.

While this news has saddened me as you are very much an important member of the squad, I have no wish to retain your services if you are no longer comfortable with the team.

Your service with Central FC has been legendary and I know I speak on behalf of management, staff and supporters by thanking you for your contribution to Central FC’s success.

It is with great reluctance that I will accede to your request and arrange for your release, effective today.

I wish you good luck in your career and I know you still have much to offer to football in Trinidad and Tobago.

Yours in football,

Dale Saunders

(Unsigned)

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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77 comments

  1. what’s it say about T&T that this man was a Minister of Government?

  2. We helped build Marvin Oliver’s house! Brent Sancho and Central FC board take aim at former club captain who they admit and deny sacking in same press release
    http://wired868.com/2016/01/29/we-helped-build-olivers-house-sancho-fires-back-at-ex-central-captain/

  3. Central trying to star in their own satirical piece…

  4. Central full ah sh#!… to say the letter wasn’t official is pure comedy. You don’t take the time to write a letter and then claim is for kicks… them really not serious

  5. We really not serious about anything

  6. And in Trinidad we continue to let things slide …………………………………

  7. Most skillful player I ever play with

  8. Big up to Marvin for always being a leader the rest of the should fellow and leave these smart men who keep robbing players smh

  9. Just to clarify the position regarding Jan-Michael Williams. He was not stripped of the captaincy but voluntarily decided to give it up this morning.
    The Central FC captain is now Leston Paul with Jamal Jack as vice-captain.

  10. If you want to test the true nature of a man …give him power. ….stand back ….. and wait. I used to think Sancho was a good guy ….. now I know exactly what he really is …… what you do in the shadows always comes out in the light…. Sancho we see yuh boi !!

  11. Nigel Myers
    (*Picture of termination letter*)

  12. That was always on the cards as soon as Sancho got reinstated. The near revolt with them signatures on that petition made him vow to get even and end careers. Obviously Marvin as an elder in the club would bear the brunt of the blame. And what’s ironic is, Brent was one of those that demonized Jack over the Germany fiasco eh. He was front and center when they filed grievances with the court and levied on the TTFA office and it’s properties. A fighter for the footballers rights then. Fast forward to 2015 and the club has an issue with how he and his agent /adviser conducted the clubs business, asking them to recuse themselves so that an investigation can take place. But he was too big and bad, too UNC to take dah insult. Then he became Jack. What an asswipe.

  13. Very unfortunate. I had the pleasure of interviewing him, and honestly I haven’t got a bad thing to say about him. Matter of fact even through his ordeal he kept quiet out of respect for the team spirit. Although he is getting down in age, I believe he still has a contribution to make to local football. Who knows… his aspirations of being a coach may be the next avenue to progress.

  14. ? Sad day in the soccer fraternity when you can show this level of disrespect and lack of gratitude to a player that have been there from inception. Unfortunately to me the club starting sinking with the PP partnership. It has never been the same?

  15. Hey Kevin Harrison… care to provide any clarity on this situation? Because it is just baffling.
    Are you allowed to provide clarity? I mean I don’t want to get you in trouble with Brent or anything, so if you can’t respond providing clarity, I’ll understand. Thanks. 🙂

    • Better pose that question on their page, bet he not saying anything here.

    • Well, he’s answered questions on other topics here before so if he chooses not to provide clarity on this issue that will tell me all I need to know eh…
      People only hide what they’re ashamed of.

    • The Central FC chairman, operations manager and press officer are all in this group. So they will certainly see the questions.
      I was informed that players were told today that Jan-Michael Williams has been stripped of his captaincy. Do not ask any questions of management…
      “You are not to answer why; you are just to do and die.”
      I’m sure Sancho and Harrison will never do anything that isn’t in the players’ interest. 😉

  16. Daz wah I sayin… kinda weird that they specified that he not engage Sancho who was on the training field… ah mean… if I get fire… I must wah d bossman tell me heself!

  17. I’m afraid that some club growing to fast…is like to attend university without to know how to read and write

  18. It looks as if Brent Sancho and Kevin Harrison used Saunders as the fall guy. This is just me speculating.
    A coach barely one month into his career can write a letter to dismiss a veteran player without sign-off from the top?

  19. Maybe Jabloteh has room for him? He could go back to his roots and start to re-grow that club.

  20. Didn’t think a coach could sack the player legally. The contract not signed with Dale Saunders, it signed with the Club and probably their CEO. But if u not wanted, he might as well go and let the lawyers deal with the legality. I just hope if he doesn’t show up for work tomorow they don’t say he broke his contract thus he’s not owed any money.

  21. WOW…. Central FC is my team, Ras is meh people from long, it will be hard to see the team without him.. I’m sure there is more to the $tory.

  22. I’m not taking any sides here…this is just a genuine question: Is that Central FC’s official letterhead?

  23. I in tears reading this….business is business….but this sounds personal …..Marvin Oliver ….we will continue singing for him

  24. Thanks Darin. Oliver was at Central FC from their first screening session and helped the team to win every trophy that is in their cabinet.
    And I’m remembering how they sacked Ross Russell in the parking lot of the Hasely Crawford Stadium at around midnight, just after a match.
    At least, Sancho and Harrison should have invited Oliver to a meeting to discuss the situation. But that is just my personal opinion.

  25. Lasana Liburd. Just reading that letter I know that’s not Dale Saunders. And it’s not even signed. Wow. That saddens me. I don’t know the entire story but Central could have dealt with the issue with a bit more class. Hmmmmmm.

  26. God never like ugly. God speed Marvin

  27. Is this how senior players who play die hard on a football field and win things for club be treated hmmm

  28. The figure owed is actually $46,000, as he has not been paid for January yet.

  29. An unsigned letter? Was it at least on club stationery? Why would they just terminate his contract without talking to him first? So you just hear man say he eh want tuh be at de club no more, and you run with that?

  30. had Oliver on my show a couple times. He never mentioned it.
    Sharks still owe me a polo they promised as a giveaway…

  31. Oliver was such a good servant to the club that I always thought he would move upstairs as an assistant coach. Terry Fenwick had actually recommended that Oliver replace him as coach when he left.
    I think it is a loss for Central.

  32. Central has been worse with him coming off the bench.
    I hope another team snatches him up quick. I love watching him play.

  33. OK, so when we going to hear from Saunders, Jeffrey, Sancho, Harrison etc.?