The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) is believed to be in crisis mode after World Cup 2006 hero and ex-Everton FC assistant coach Dennis Lawrence pulled out of a deal to be Men’s National Senior Team head coach, just 48 hours after both parties agreed in a principle.
The breaking point, according to Lawrence’s agent Mike Berry, was termination clauses inserted into the deal on Thursday as well as the TTFA’s failure to allay the prospective coach’s concerns.
“We have a very disappointed chap who spoke to [Belgium National Senior Team head coach Roberto] Martinez this morning,” Berry told Wired868. “[Martinez] was happy to welcome him back into the [Belgium] fold and he is getting back on with his career. He is very disappointed not to get the chance to do [the Trinidad and Tobago job] his way.”
Wired868 tried unsuccessfully to get comment from TTFA president David John-Williams and technical committee chairman Dexter Skeene.
However, a TTFA board member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was furious to learn that the deal collapsed and revealed that an emergency board meeting was called for this evening. However the meeting was subsequently cancelled.
The TTFA issued a press release this evening, which promised to name its new coach on Monday. There was no word as to whether it would be Lawrence. It was a far cry from the optimistic mood on Wednesday night, as the two parties on either side of the Atlantic Ocean celebrated a deal to make Lawrence the two island republic’s top football coach.
“On Wednesday night, we agreed in principle [over the phone] the basic terms [of the job],” said Berry, “which is salary, length of contract, bonuses and so on. It was all systems go.”
The deal on offer that Wednesday night was what the TTFA felt should be given to the next Soca Warriors coach. But it is worth pointing out that, up to that point, that person looked like being W Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier, who was recommended for the position by the technical committee.
John-Williams, of course, is W Connection’s co-owner and he recused himself from Wednesday’s deliberations because of his close, personal relationship with Fevrier.
Once, John-Williams returned to the room and learnt that Lawrence—and not Fevrier—was the board’s choice, he allegedly suggested a caveat. The contract, said the TTFA president, should have a termination clause. And, after their discussions Lawrence, the board agreed that there should be performance appraisals added to the deal.
As far as Lawrence’s team was concerned, it was already a done deal and they only asked the board to give them until 8am [TT time] so he could resign from his two-year contract as Belgium National Senior Team scout.
“I said let us get Roberto’s blessing because it was only right to let him know he was losing a member of staff,” said Berry. “We spoke to Roberto [Martinez] at noon English time. He was absolutely delighted and happy to endorse Lawrence. He said he would help as much as possible—except if [the two nations] met in Russia [at the 2018 World Cup]!”
Lawrence and Berry sat back and waited to hear from the TTFA. But, two hours later, there had been no contact from the local football body and a call to Skeene went straight to voicemail.
Wired868 understands that, at the time, Skeene was trying to engineer clauses that would satisfy John-Williams but not put off Lawrence.
Berry, who was unaware of the late developments, emailed Skeene and John-Williams and revealed that Roberto Martinez wanted to issue a press release congratulating Lawrence on his new post and explaining to the public why he rated the former Defence Force and Swansea defender so highly.
Lawrence played under Martinez at Swansea and then was a member of his coaching staff at Wigan Athletic, Everton and Belgium.
John-Williams, according to Berry, replied to the email within minutes to say: No press release please.
At 10am, Skeene phoned Lawrence to say there would be amendments to the initial deal but he could not say what those were.
Wired868 understands that Skeene phoned one ex-Trinidad and Tobago international for advice on performance markers for the contract. John-Williams allegedly wanted Lawrence to deliver either nine or 10 points from the CONCACAF Hex or be sacked. But Skeene allegedly felt that was unreasonable.
The advisor suggested instead that perhaps the FIFA rankings could be used as a gauge—but it must work both ways. A drop by a certain number of places could prompt a review while there would be a reward if Trinidad and Tobago climbed the rankings.
Three hours after their brief conversation, Skeene told Lawrence that the contract was on the way.
“There were clauses that I never came across before in my 20-odd years as an agent,” said Berry.
The two clauses that stood out, according to Berry, were that Lawrence could be terminated if Trinidad and Tobago: (a) did not have a 40 percent success rate on a presumed annual basis; or (b) suffered a six point drop in the FIFA rankings.
“So if, God forbid, we lose against Panama and Mexico [in March] and we drop six points in the FIFA rankings as a result,” said Berry, “then his contract can be terminated at four months’ notice! Now bear in mind, Dennis has a two-year contract in Belgium. Those clauses were unacceptable.
“And not only were they in the termination section but they were under the heading of gross misconduct. So if he was sacked for one of those clauses, he would not only be sacked for non-performance but for gross conduct. That could destroy his career. How could he sign that?!”
John-Williams emailed Berry on Thursday evening and ask Lawrence to call him, which the 42-year-old coach did.
The TTFA president did not congratulate Lawrence or say that he was looking forward to working with him. Instead, he simply wanted to know his choice for assistant coaches.
Wired868 understands that Lawrence gave John-Williams a six-man shortlist, which included two English coaches, one Dutch coach and locals: Stern John, Angus Eve and Hutson “Barber” Charles. Lawrence intended to interview the six coaches within the next week.
John, an assistant coach at Pro League champions Central FC, and Eve, the Club Sando head coach, were described as bright, upcoming coaches. While Charles, who worked with Lawrence at Defence Force, offered an immediate knowledge of the current player pool since he worked as Hart’s assistant for the past three years and served as head coach for a year and a half before then.
Lawrence also wanted his own goalkeeping coach, sports scientist and match analysis manager. But the Warriors coach-in-waiting had a question for John-Williams too.
What did the TTFA mean by a 40 percent success rate? Did that include draws, since a solitary point could be the difference between qualification and failure?
John-Williams, according to Berry, told Lawrence he did not know and would get back on to him. But they did not hear from the TTFA president again.
Berry spoke to Skeene on Thursday night too. He pointed to the clauses and suggested that, at the least, Lawrence should have the security of a 12-month pay off—even if the TTFA decided to sack him in the first week.
The football body, said Berry, ought to show some faith in a coach that was leaving a job to come and work for Trinidad and Tobago. Skeene, Barry alleged, said that was a reasonable request and promised to get back to them.
Neither John-Williams nor Skeene contacted them again on Thursday night. So, Berry sent an email to both TTFA officials and went to bed.
This morning, there was no emailed response from the TTFA and Lawrence’s enthusiasm had now become a deep unease. The defender rang up a few friends and associates for advice—including 2006 World Cup coach Leo Beenhakker—and then made his decision.
“It smelt fishy and he was very uncomfortable about the lack of response and the lack of courtesy,” said Berry. “And he said: ‘I am out.’ Perhaps if the clauses were in the performance appraisal section and not the termination section or if there was more security for him in the contract…
“He was also concerned about the lack of reference from the TTFA to the long term development of Trinidad and Tobago football, which he felt was equally important to the current World Cup campaign.
“He will do his damnedest to get us to the Russia World Cup but he told them from the start that he didn’t just want to be a quick fix.”
And so, Berry alerted the TTFA of his client’s change of heart, via an email to John-Williams, which read:
“In the absence of a response and on reflection, Dennis has decided to reject your offer of the position of national coach. Unfortunately, the philosophy of your technical committee, board and yourself do not match Dennis’ philosophy for Trinidad and Tobago football at this time.
“Dennis has asked me to convey his best wishes for the future success of Trinidad and Tobago football.”
Lawrence’s decision stunned board members who had not been kept abreast of developments since the Wednesday night meeting. As far as they were concerned, the board had already decided upon their coach and the only thing left for John-Williams and Skeene to do was get his signature on a piece of paper.
One source wondered aloud if the TTFA president had sabotaged the process. There is no concrete evidence to support that suggestion at this point in time.
“How can a clause lead to all these problems?” asked the source. “That is a matter of simple negotiation. Something has gone wrong somewhere.”
The TTFA board convened an emergency meeting this evening, presumably to discuss the deal. According to the constitution, only the board can hire or fire coaches. However, the meeting was scrapped—presumably because the late notice meant there was unlikely to be quorum.
At Wednesday night’s meeting, although the majority of the technical committee voted for Fevrier, the board members decided that Lawrence was the man they wanted.
Wired868 understands that there were five votes for Lawrence and two for former England World Cup defender and Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh coach Terry Fenwick. John-Williams’ two vice-presidents, Joanne Salazar and Ewing Davis, were the only members who voted for Fevrier, since the TTFA president had recused himself.
“The board decided that Dexter [Skeene] and the president should take the lead in signing the deal [with Lawrence],” said the anonymous board member. “The enthusiasm for Dennis is great and he shouldn’t let [the clauses] stymie him.
“There was no number two [for if we didn’t get Lawrence]. We agreed it would be him.”
After the initial interview, Berry revealed that Skeene phoned and apologised for the lack of response by the TTFA. But he was unable to relay whether there was a change of position by the football body on the controversial clauses.
This evening’s board meeting appeared to be the last chance for Lawrence. But there is still hope that John-Williams reopened discussions with the former Malick schoolboy, who was on Wigan’s coaching staff when they Manchester City in the 2013 FA Cup final.
“Roberto [Martinez] said don’t close the door totally [on Trinidad and Tobago],” said Berry. “He was in a similar position once when he left the Swansea job. It seems unlikely now but he said to leave the door open…
“It is not that we are against performance evaluations but you have to give him a reasonable time to do his job. Do a review after 12 months but not from day one!
“They have missed out on a top class guy, never mind a good coach. If Roberto Martinez rates him so highly, surely Trinidad and Tobago should as well.”
Twelve years ago, Lawrence’s headed goal against Bahrain in Manama won Trinidad and Tobago a historic berth at the Germany 2006 World Cup. But, months earlier, the lanky defender showcased his skills on the ground as he tore forward on the overlap to score a decisive item in a 2-0 win over Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Port of Spain.
The Panama triumph was the Warriors’ first competitive outing under Leo Beenhakker and it revitalised the nation’s World Cup qualifying campaign.
Should Lawrence agree terms with the TTFA, his first opponent—on 24 March 2017—will be Panama at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
Wired868 asked John-Williams for an update on the vacant position on Men’s National Senior Team head coach and whether he was trying to sign Lawrence or discourage him from signing. The football president declined comment but promised that the TTFA would issue a press release later.
“All I can say is maybe your source on the board can answer that text,” said John-Williams. “I have nothing against you if you choose a particular road… All I am saying is don’t lie on me.”
The other coaches on the TTFA’s shortlist were: Francisco Maturana, Fenwick and Fevrier.
The current TTFA board of directors comprises: David John-Williams (president), Joanne Salazar, Ewing Davis and Allan Warner (vice-presidents), Samuel Saunders (Central FA), Sherwyn Dyer (Eastern Counties Football Union), Karanjabari Williams (Northern FA), Richard Quan Chan (Southern FA), Anthony Moore (Tobago FA), Joseph Taylor (Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees Association), Sharon O’Brien (Women’s League Football), Wayne Cunningham (Eastern FA) and Dexter Skeene (TT Pro League).
The TTFA technical committee consists of: Dexter Skeene (chairman), Dr Alvin Henderson (vice-chairman), Bertille St Clair (former World Youth Cup coach), Errol Lovell (former national goalkeeper), Jinelle James (ex-national player and current administrator) and Muhammad Isa (technical director).
“The Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) wishes to advise that the announcement of the newly appointed Head Coach of the Men’s Senior National Team will take place on Monday 23 January 2017.
“The TTFA has noted the large public interest in the selection of our new National Senior Mens coach and we wish to assure the our supporters and stakeholders, the TTFA Technical Committee is working assiduously to complete the current process, to ensure the most appropriate selection, in the best interest of the National Senior Men’s Team Programme and our ongoing the 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign.”
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Wisdom at work my good doctor.
Get over with it, hire SCF TO kill Russia 2018 dream by losing both games in March. Then the TTFA will be credited with firing the coach that got us to a FIFA Ranking 49, hiring Saintfeit and Fevrier who combined would have dropped our ranking to approximately 100 and rooting us to the bottom of the HEX.
Who are we to stand in the way of the Boards progress?
Please put us out of this misery!
The only realistic chance we have for WC is the U20 WC South Korea.
Which world cup Carlos 2026
Time to get rid of this problem David John Williams…I’m convinced that his motives are personal….to get connection on th football map….or to make money….But either way he’s destroying our national teams…get rid of him before it’s to late…
Meanwhile our national team who was beaten at home by Suriname is NOT training. So no interim measures have been put in place lol lol. And the beat goes on …lol
Dennis,you will always remain close to my Heart.November 16.
Good decision by D. Lawrence. Don’t sacrifice your career and limitless opportunities for a half chance (or less) at a world cup. Develop yourself to your fullest potential.
I only hope WHEN Stuart Charles-Fevrier gets the job, he gets the same clauses in his contract.
J Wms. Do the decent thing and bow out gracefully. Where is your self respect? If you cannot do the job properly- leave.
For the millionth time “the administrators are killing sport”
DJW is managing the TTFA just as his physical appearance ,sloppy n carefree
So yes Laurence is a safe choice but I aint hear nobody comment on the choices he put forward for Assistant. Anybody care to comment?
I liked the idea of Hutson Charles as he will be a link back to Stephen Hart and Angus Eve has been doing some decent work at youth level so he too seems a sensible addition
Two proven goal scorers and personal friends
He will need persons who are not just capable but also men he can TRUST…Since he’s walking into a Lion’s den with this TTFA.
Carlos Lee Well yes you have a point there, but for some reasons the corrupted TTFA always finds themselves in plenty of debt so they say and is always depending on the government and the sponsors monies eh to always get them out of their mismanagement of the millions of monies occurring practices Them really good yes.
I am rarely wrong the money is there for the rebuilding process after the next two Hex games…..
According to Mr Look Loy…watch the back door??
I think money will get tighter if we don’t gain some points in the next couple matches. Our chances of qualifying for the WC will become clearer after those two matches.
What money? The TTFA hasn’t raised any substantial team for the team being in the Hex.
Lasana after the next 2 games eyes would open also glimpse over to the women program a bit and wonder why this was never afforded to Hood or Marlon?? explain to me please when this became available
Ahh. Interesting Kurtwyn. I see the potential connection. Soon we’ll be eating plenty spaghetti and pizza?
Earl – you and I both know that if we make the WC money will be pouring in like rain. I think we’ll be able to pay every $$ owed by the TTFA.
This is the first time in my life I have seen T&T in the Hex with zero major sponsors for the senior team.
The players are doing their job. Is the TTFA doing theirs?
Good question Lasana. We should have been pulling in major dollars just for qualifying for the hex. I think all the chaos and drama before and after the first two matches has scared away potential sponsors. TTFA needs to get the program settled. No one wants to invest in a highly volatile entity.
Carlos, do you know that the TTFA does not have a finance or marketing committee although those standing committees are enshrined in the constitution?
As it is know, I believe the TTFA president goes out by himself and meets companies and then reports back only if he has landed something.
In any case, that isn’t his fault alone. It is also the board’s.
Lasana – those are things we must change and soon. I don’t have a problem with the president going out and raising funds – in fact I think that’s a good thing. But a marketing committee is critical to the organization. Especially as we are in the hex and have some good visibility and recognition.
And where will they be getting the bonus/incentives monies eh. .the corrupted TTFA is still owing Coach Hart, Ken Elie, and whoever else plenty monies eh Carlos Lee steuuppss. Them really good yes.
More bacchanal in the football
I think a 2-year guaranteed contract would be quite appropriate for Dennis or a similar caliber coach. First point of appraisal should be at the end of the hex. If we make the WC we obviously continue with him and even look to extend and upgrade his contract. If we do not make the WC, then TTFA should be able to use that as a means to path ways. But since he would have had a guaranteed contract he gets paid for year 2. I would also include some bonus/incentives in the contract tied to us making the WC – even getting to the 4th place play-offs.
DJW should offer Fevrier the same contract, but I guess when things go wrong he will still have a job at WC. I see the strategy they are using, but will refrain for now. Lawrence was right to be uneasy, these people only want to get to the top by destroying people’s reputation…very nasty scenario. I hope if they do offer it to Terence William Fenwick, he scrutinises that contract with a magnifying glass, fine tooth comb and get MI6 or FBI to investigate as well and I know Reyna Kowlessar, will ensure they doh play up.
Savi we always knew DJW didn’t have the balls to hire Terry. Nest of vipers in there.
..Results not important in Belgium and they fired their WC 2014 coach? Right..
If you check my post, I didn’t say results were never important. But after 10 years of development which got them to the World Cup in 2014 with an excellent squad, he’ll yes results are important. We’re trying to get results from an ad hoc bunch of players with no collective adhesion. There is no developmental plan or even a designated training facility. Once the coach has a full toolbox then he has to earn his pay.
..This ain’t age group football man. And even then – at the end of the day RESULTS ARE THE ONLY SERIOUS YARD STICK..
Kevin Harrison without an informer on the inside Mr. Live Wire cannot write his stories to keep his wired members updated about the madness that continues to take place within the corrupted TTFA eh, hence the reason why my dictator president is trying to put a gag order on him the same like what he did to my Prof Jamaal Shabazz eh, so let the informer continues to always do his part nah. Them really good yes. hahahaha
It depends what his KPIs are. For example, Belgium, Iceland and Panama all set 10 year plans and goals. Results were not important. Belgium for example sacrificed two Euros and at least one WC to achieve their aims, which we now see they have become a leading nation in world football. We seem to just want short term results. Why don’t we plan today for 2022 qualification? What’s the point if scraping into 2018 if we won’t get past the group stage? Our 15 – 18 year olds should be our focus now. So we should be appointing a coach with that in mind. Who cares about FIFA rankings for a couple of years. Invest in our youth, build strong foundations for development. Interact with Pro League and Super League clubs to nurture these players. Maybe even help with their salaries or transport. Let’s build a team as a country.
..What metrics? Number of training sessions? Absent/present ratio? Wins/draws/losses! Only those matter..
There is a degree of negativity in the appointment of the coach. If you truly believe a guy is the right man, why are you so focused on his terms of dismissal? Of course there must be clauses and KPI’s, but they should be standard for any coach. Would SCF have lasted in his first season at Connection with such clauses? Certainly, Alex Ferguson wouldn’t have made year 1 at Man U. You have to have realistic parameters. But the reality is that no matter what a coaches contract says, it’s a results business and a coach can be fired at any time if performances are poor. We need to observe that DJW is trying to take care of TTFA business. If he offers a 3 year deal and the next coach turns out to be another Saintfeit, TTFA would have to pay a large settlement to get rid of him. So I can’t disagree with the concept. But the way this has happened is embarrassing. I’m not impressed by a board member leaking information either. While the public want to know the situation, leaking information like this only unsettles the process. Yes, transparency is important, but this issue may have been resolved without any reason for the public to know of the content of the discussions. Now DJW will have no trust in his board and those with integrity on the board will be viewed with suspicion. And the next coach will always be under the shadow of a failed appointment process.
I would be interested to see the conditions for dismissal in the contracts of TTFA board members, technical committee and senior management. For example, at what point would the Technical Director be fired? What are the clauses in our new women’s coach contract or Russel Latapy? What about the Gen Sec or DJW? Do they also have such definite measures for success and failure? If so, why are they all still there?
Well said on a number of points. I also agree that it’s appalling the extent of information leaked to the press. It’s quite unsettling and only helping to undermine the process. These leakers need to know how to give information without giving too much information.
Although nobody knows the man ability as a head Coach of any real professional team/ National team I say that the three years contract would have being appropriate but within those three years his performance should also be graded and by the success/failure of our Soca Worries we will definitely know if he will be the man or not in order to take us to the next Gold Cup/ World Cup 2022. Them really good yes.
What do folks think would be a reasonable contract period for Dennis? When would be an appropriate time to assess his performance? What would be appropriate performance metrics to determine how he’s doing and whether we should continue with him or not?
Those are the questions I myself was asking. Because DL is a former player he should be given free sheet but we get so caught up in personalities that most of us are focused on demonizing DJW.
Why DJW don’t coach the team and call it George .