Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams’ future remains in the balance, after today’s AGM at UWI’s St Augustine Campus ended, predictably, before a motion of no confidence in the local football boss could be tabled.
The AGM, which started promptly at 9:30am with a near full house, was adjourned at roughly 5pm with roughly two-thirds of the agenda items still untouched. It will be convened from 10am on Sunday 9 December, at a venue to be decided.
The no confidence motion, which was placed on the agenda by FC Santa Rosa, is one of several contentious issues still to be settled by football stakeholders, along with a constitutional amendment to lower the threshold for the removal of an official or body, the passing of a budget, and the inspection of the TTFA’s finances for the last fiscal year.
And, of course, there remains the thorny matter of John-Williams’ secret Home of Football contracts and deal with I95.5FM—or, at least, the radio’s station duo of Andre Baptiste and Tony Lee.
“On the issue of the Home of Football and I95.5FM, he promised more will be revealed further down in the agenda,” Northern Football Association (NFA) president Anthony Harford told Wired868. “My hope is he does reveal all because this is not good enough.”
Another member, who spoke on condition of anonymity, was incredulous that John-Williams continues to withhold basic answers from stakeholders.
“The questions asked today about the Home of Football and who the contractors were and about I95.5FM are essentially the same questions that he promised to answer at the last AGM,” said the member. “Imagine after a whole year and we are still without any clear answers!”
Today’s AGM did make some firm decisions though. For months, John-Williams refused to let provisional board members vote, based on his own reading of the constitution.
However, the meeting unanimously agreed today that no football body should be denied full rights on the board, just because they changed their representative in mid-term.
The AGM also voted to accept the auditor’s report for the past year while the representative body for local primary schools was given a deadline of 31 March 2019 to become compliant.
But there was not much else of consequence today.
“From the start, the president gave an opening address that seemed to go on for ever, in which he essentially blamed everyone from [his predecessor Raymond] Tim Kee, [former general secretary] Sheldon Phillips, [former men’s head coach] Stephen Hart and so on, for the issues he inherited,” said the anonymous member. “After that, you had people giving their responses to that. Then, we went over the minutes for the last meetings in painstaking detail.
“[…] It was slow going. We really didn’t make a big dent in the agenda.”
John-Williams spoke at length about the positive impact he believes the TTFA Home of Football would have on the local game and dismissed critics of the venture. Once more, John-Williams failed to offer transparency on his project. And he allegedly floundered too when asked to support his claim that it would be a great money spinner.
“Harford asked his business plan for the Home of Football,” said the source, “and pointed out that the Normandy Hotel created a wing to host sport teams and it is still sitting idle today because they never conducted a feasibility study before building.
“There are 168 cricket teams that travel to Barbados every year and only six to Trinidad. So when you factor in the commercial costs of light bills, water, etc, to operate the Home of Football, where does John-Williams think he is getting all of this money from?
“He keeps spouting a bunch of rhetoric about it being a hub for sport and all the nice things that other NSOs told him; but that is not a business plan.”
Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president and board member Keith Look Loy suggested that local football—which ought to be the priority of the TTFA—has all but collapsed, yet the TTFA president is happy to talk about one building.
“The horse is starving while the grass is growing,” said Look Loy.
Not for the first time, John-Williams urged fellow members to help him muzzle Look Loy, who, he claimed, refused to sign a proposed code of ethics for the board. And Look Loy, again, retorted that he would not sign a gag order, as he is obligated to report back to his members about what transpired at board members.
Furthermore, Look Loy slammed those who were ‘afraid to talk because they’re sucking from the corrupted tit of the TTFA’.
“I don’t go [to board meetings] to be party to his party,” said Look Loy.
When Look Loy joined the board in January, he was often a lone voice of dissent. Less than a year later, the 14 member board is virtually split down the middle with John-Williams only able to depend on vice-president Ewing Davis, Southern Football Association (SFA) president Richard Quan Chan and Tobago Football Association (TFA) president Anthony Moore for electoral support.
The Eastern Counties Football Association (ECFU) has been declared compliant by the board once more—although Look Loy argued that this should only be done by the audit and compliance committee—while John-Williams can replace departed VPs Joanne Salazar and Allan Warner at this AGM.
But the grip he held on the TTFA board over the past three years is significantly loosened.
There is a motion too for the Veteran Footballers Foundation of Trinidad and Tobago (VFFOTT) and the Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL)—whose respective presidents, Selby Browne and William Wallace, have openly criticised John-Williams in the past—to be given board places.
Should VFFOTT and SSFL be included on the board, John-Williams will face a significantly different climate for his final year in office.
He may have the fight of his life to even make it that far.
At present, the TTFA recognises 47 voting delegates—the players and coaches associations are both suspended due to their inactivity. Article 38.4 says the president can only be removed if three quarter of the valid vote decide to strip him of his powers.
Essentially, John-Williams needs just 11 votes to survive at present. Football stakeholders believe he can probably count on as many as 20 votes at the moment, which is easily enough.
However, a NFA proposal to amend the constitution so that only a simple majority would remove the president, could be a game changer.
“We don’t see the rationale, if it takes 50 per cent plus one to elect you, why should it take 75 per cent to remove you?” asked Look Loy. “Which government will ever have 75 per cent of the electorate against them at any point in time?
“That is an unlikely figure. Fifty-one per cent is good enough to get you in, so it should be enough to get you out.”
Article 30.3 states that the constitution can be amended by a simple majority of the valid vote once more than half of the electorate is present.
There are supposedly about 23 members who are disenchanted with John-Williams’ stewardship, with another four votes—two from Futsal and one each from the Primary School and Beach Soccer bodies—up for grabs.
Any party that gets to 24 votes at the AGM can control whether or not the NFA’s amendment is passed.
Neither John-Williams nor Look Loy, the de facto mover of the no confidence motion, can be sure of their support going into the second meeting. Wired868 understands that the Pro League’s 10 delegates and the Super League’s eight delegates are split straight down the middle.
There are members who also argue that a simple majority makes it easy to remove a sitting president and can create a constant state of flux at the helm.
“Some are saying that a simple majority is the best answer, there are some who say why not two thirds, and some may want to leave it as it is,” said Harford. “So it is still up to debate. The threshold for electing someone is a simple majority, so why should the threshold for removing someone be different to that?
“But the argument is that it could become too flippant and as soon as somebody get you vex, you move them.”
For most persons who spoke to Wired868, today’s AGM—which had a near full turnout—was conducted in a more open atmosphere with John-Williams noticeably less combative.
“I thought it was far less acrimonious than previous meetings,” said Harford. “I left feeling reasonably assured that the members realise there are no dissidents and rebels; just people who care about football. There were also more people who spoke out and shared their opinions than happened in the past, which is a credit to the stakeholders.”
With more at stake in the reconvened meeting on 9 December, it is likely to be a more testy affair though.
“The rubber will hit the road—I am hoping—on the ninth of December,” said Look Loy.
John-Williams did not offer comment on today’s proceedings.