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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”