Stand-off! TTSL say they paid referees in advance; Downer: “We had no contract”

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Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) Referees’ Committee Board member Osmond Downer is denying that the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) had any written contract agreement with referees for the just-concluded TTSL season.

Yesterday, acting on behalf of the TTSL, the League’s general secretary Camara David requested reimbursement from the refereeing body to the tune of TT$19,206 for three boycotted games during the inaugural TTSL season which ended on 10 December. However, Downer, who is also vice-president of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Referees’ Association, stated that the referees did not breach any contractual arrangement.

Photo: Referee Rodphin Harris (background) waves play on as W Connection striker Dwight Quintero (centre) tries to keep possession from North East Stars players Neveal Hackshaw (left) and Adrian Noel during 2015 Toyota Classic quarterfinal action.
(Courtesy Chevaughn Christopher/Wired868)

“The Referees’ Committee has no written contract with the TTSL,” Downer told Wired868, recalling the meeting the bodies had before the start of the TTSL season. “All they had were discussions regarding the supply of referees. The only thing that was agreed upon was the conditions of service.”

Downer was of the view that refereeing locally was completely voluntary, and he stated that the boycott of TTSL games on 12 and 19 November occurred because the referees were fearful of abuse at the hands of players and team officials.

“The individual referees expressed trepidation and fear of abuse and they wanted the abuse to stop,” said Downer, driving home the point that referees cannot be required to come out and officiate.

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TTSL president Keith Look Loy confirmed that conditions of service were discussed before the start of the season but travel allowances and match payments for referees and assistant referees, he said, were also covered in the meeting. And David noted that the referees were paid in advance. According to Look Loy, it was a payment which the TTFA advised was to be paid to them and not to the Referees’ Committee.

And the TTSL proceeded on that basis.

Photo: TTSL president Keith Look Loy (left) and CFTL chairman Chris Anderson agree sponsorship for two cups for the 2017 TTSL season during a press conference at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 5 June 2017.
(Courtesy Roneil Walcott/Wired868)

Meanwhile, TTFRA president and Referees’ Committee chairman Joseph Taylor told Wired868 that he had taken note of David’s letter and would be taking the matter to TTFA general secretary Justin Latapy-George.

Just last month, the TTFA acted as mediator when the TTSL and TTFRA tried to break the impasse that threatened to prevent a smooth end to the TTSL season, which saw Hydrotech Guaya United walking away with both League and Cup titles. And although David noted that the TTSL had enquired who would be reimbursing them for the “unrecoverable expenses” they had incurred in November, the response had so far been slow in coming.

So are Joseph and company going to accede to the TTSL’s reimbursement request, which came as a result of a TTSL Board meeting on 4 December?

“We have noted the letter and we are going to take it up with the general secretary of the TTFA,” Taylor said.

It is uncertain if Latapy-George and the TTFA will act as mediators on this occasion but the general secretary told Wired868 that he was yet to hear from Taylor on the issue. Latapy-George did say that the doors for dialogue are always open and he would not be surprised if a meeting with all parties were held before the end of the year.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (right) smiles with fourth official Cecile Hinds before the First Citizens Bank Cup final between Defence Force and Ma Pau Stars at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on 2 December 2016.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Meanwhile, TTSL president Keith Look Loy assured Wired868 that the TTSL Board will be forced to act if the Referees’ Committee does not offer a response by the first week in January.

“We are going to have to make a decision if we don’t get a response in reasonable time,” Look Loy said. “We will have to bring TTFA president David John-Williams into this because the Referees’ Committee is an agent of the TTFA.”

“Logically and legally we are in the right,” Look Loy continued. We are waiting on the Referees’ Committee and we want to know if the answer is ‘no’, if they will leave us hanging in space or if the answer is a ‘yes.’”

On 12 November, players from WASA FC and Siparia Spurs were left out in the cold as their away games in Tobago against 1976 Phoenix FC and Bethel United respectively were postponed after Tobago officials failed to turn up.

At the time, Tobago Referees’ Association head Noel Bynoe was adamant that, unless Look Loy apologised for the comments he had allegedly made about a Tobago referee following an FA Trophy game in October, referees on the island would not abandon their boycott stance.

Photo: Referee Neal Brizan (centre) has to separate Point Fortin Civic attacker Andre Toussaint (second from left) from San Juan Jabloteh’s Fabian Reid during the 2014 Toyota Classic final.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

Look Loy subsequently apologised and the Tobago referees resumed service. However, on 19 November, no match officials turned up for Siparia’s match with Look Loy’s club, FC Santa Rosa, and Wired868 even had sight of a document which showed that no referees had been assigned to the game, carded for the Palo Seco Velodrome.

Taylor and the TTFRA were not pleased with the TTSL’s Disciplinary Committee’s decision to hand Look Loy and his assistant Jovan Rochford one-match bans and $1,000 fines following their verbal spat with referee Cecile Hinds on 5 November in a pivotal Santa Rosa versus Guaya clash. The referees head demanded assurances that in the future certain standards would be adhered to by coaches and players.

Santa Rosa’s fixture against Siparia eventually went ahead in Palo Seco on 26 November, when referee Roger Smith and his assistants Devon London and Junior Geoffrey ignored any boycott action and turned up for duty.

Thereafter, the TTFA intervened and managed to get the TTSL and the TTFRA to call a truce in the interest of successfully completing the 2017 season.

However, on Sunday, Look Loy slammed the performance of referee Rodphin Harris in Santa Rosa’s final league match against UTT on 10 December and declared that the truce was over.

Photo: FC Santa Rosa head coach and TTSL president Keith Look Loy (left) exchanges pleasantries with referee Rodphin Harris during TTSL action against UTT at the Larry Gomes Stadium on 10 December 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“This referee […] can’t even pass the fitness test but he keeps coming back match after match after match,” Look Loy declared, after his team let the TTSL League One title slip from their grasp at the Larry Gomes Stadium. “Now the season is done, I can begin talking again and I can begin posting videos again…”

So we might be in for a return to the silly season. Perhaps not. It’s the festive season so the Santa Rosa boss can perhaps be persuaded to let peace and goodwill reign if Santa Claus, in the form of the Referees’ Committee or the TTFA, decides to fill their stockings with almost $20,000 in “unrecoverable expenses.”

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About Roneil Walcott

Roneil Walcott
Roneil Walcott is an avid sports fan and freelance reporter with a BA in Mass Communication from COSTAATT. Roneil is a former Harvard and St Mary's College cricketer who once had lofty aspirations of bringing joy to sport fans with the West Indies team. Now, his mission is to keep them on the edge of their seats with sharp commentary from off the playing field.

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  1. Warning: Undefined variable $userid in /www/wired868_759/public/wp-content/plugins/user-photo/user-photo.php on line 114

    Question here is had FC Santa Rosa won the their game against UTT, would the referee’s performance be brought forward? Would the request for reimbursement be made? I highly think not because he would have been to busy celebrating and uttering vindication is his…. Instead we see the rant of a sad little man who came to pitch and loss all his marbles…. You hear nothing from him about the referee’s performance when his team wins, but will take to social media and other forums to berate and chastise these officials. International referees get it wrong too so why can’t the local ones as well… ?

  2. From one i am reading they did not have a written contract but it was a verbal contract;so from a legal perspective their was ‘promise’.Also am reading where d referee vice-president is saying is ah voluntary thing they does,that is d problem in T&T;WE NOT PROFISSONAL IN WHATEVER WE ARE DOING especially in ttfa that is y we still so!!

  3. Lok Loy has to make up his mind what he wants to be. Either a manager of a team or an administrator. He is behaving like a failed state despot.

  4. ..Ask not what the referees can do for TTSL. Ask what TTSL does for the referees. TTSL is the ONLY league that pays the referees so much money (almost TTD 120’000K for the season), in advance, and doesn’t owe them. Their relationship with other league is that of creditor – usually for YEARS..

  5. Well this certainly got uglier very quick. I am not seeing an amicable end to this anytime soon

  6. Downer is crazy. You were paid for a service. If you didn’t deliver it a refund is due. Even without a written contract, it’s understood. Ethically this stinks

    • Mr Downer should understand that the arrangements made with the TTSL at which terms and conditions were agreed to constitute a verbal binding contract between both parties. Further, referees were paid in advance for the service which referees refused to provide. Secondly, how can he speak of refereeing is a voluntary service when they are demanding payment?

    • Lasana Liburd thanks. Interesting

  7. I imagine that they would definitely have to refund the monies paid for services they didnt render but to reimburse the teams travelling expenses ….I imagine that might have to be settled in court because they will fight that

  8. Brent why do you say there’s no contract?

  9. I am not discussing that. I’ve said they should pay back the money. I was referencing future (next season). I’ve also said that the TTSL not getting sum of $19k for the games missed by the refs.

  10. Interesting that people that are being paid to uphold the laws of the game find themselves in this position.

  11. Clattenburg wasnt paid for games he didnt work at

  12. ..Aaah, they can walk away even if they have been paid in advance. Industrial relations a la Bennet. LOL. Cool. I done. It late..

    • Well it’s worst than that. The league was a disciplinary process which was invoked and underway. As actors within the league you must let this process run its course. You cannot take your own action independent of the league’s process .

  13. They can certainly withhold their services, which is well within their rights. If Mark Clattenberg walk away from the EPL because of abuse, what make you think these guys/gals won’t? I don’t know their financial situation but referee abuse is a problem.

  14. ..And that monopolistic threat is what they ultimately rely on whenever they feel threatened..

  15. I hope allyuh have refs next year….

  16. No lawyer boss but I does play one sometimes lol

  17. You’re not going to win that argument Keith Look Loy.. no contract, the refs should pay back the referee fees but good luck with that. You guys are making a spectacle about a situation you’re not going to win

  18. ..”All this other set of monies” was lost precisely because the referees simply didn’t turn up. With no warning..

  19. They should pay back the money for the Match officials. All this other set are monies, dead on arrival

  20. “Downer was of the view that refereeing locally was completely voluntary”, Is Downer serious?

  21. And we wonder why crime is running rampant. Who can the deviant youths emulate? Who can they look at as an example of living right ? Who??

  22. ..But in 2018 we WILL have a written contract..

  23. ..Mr. Downer was my biology teacher at CIC and I respect his contribution to football over many decades. He is correct in saying there is no written contract but he agrees that “conditions of service” were agreed between the referees and TTSL. That included pre-payment of fees to referees. C’mon now. There was an agreement and money was paid. The honourable thing to do is to honour what you agree to..

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