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DJW asks board to offer Lawrence contract extension; members object to email procedure

Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams has allegedly asked the local football board to approve a new contract for Soca Warriors head coach Dennis Lawrence.

Lawrence, who took up the National Senior Team post in January 2017, will be out of contract on 31 January 2019; and, on Tuesday, he emerged as the top candidate for the vacant managerial position at Welsh club, Wrexham AFC, which competes a rung below England League Two in the National League.

Photo: TTFA president David John-Williams (centre), media officer Shaun Fuentes (left) and new Soca Warriors coach Dennis Lawrence at the TTFA headquarters on 30 January 2017.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA)

On Wednesday, the TTFA issued a release stating that “it has no intentions of allowing its current employee, Mr Lawrence, to engage in discussions with [Wrexham] regarding the possibilities of a move” and indicated that Lawrence was “pleased” with its position on the matter.

The missive was unsigned but is believed to have been made by John-Williams. Two days later, the football president finally involved the board in a discussion on the Warriors head coach—and it involved two sentences, sent individually to each member.

“As you are aware [Wrexham] are trying to lure our coach to be their manager,” stated John-Wiliams, in an email. “I am kindly seeking your approval to extend his and his staff’s contracts by two and a half years with the same terms and conditions in the circumstances.”

The proposed extension would mean that Lawrence will remain in charge until near the end of Trinidad and Tobago’s Qatar 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign. Remarkably if he were to see out such an contract, Lawrence would become the longest serving head coach in Trinidad and Tobago’s football history.

Only Conrad Braithwaite (1965-67), Zoran Vranes (1994-96), Bertille St Clair (1997-2000) and Stephen Hart (2013-16) are recorded to have lasted more than two consecutive years on the job.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team coach Stephen Hart (centre) and players (from right) Mekeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Kenwyne Jones, Radanfah Abu Bakr and Sheldon Bateau at a national training session.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images)

However, TTFA board member Keith Look Loy was displeased that John-Williams, his approach to the board, did not inform his colleagues of the value of Lawrence’s contract or the yardstick by which his performances as coach were to be judged.

And, more to the point, he was aghast that the football president would again try to appoint a head coach by email, just two months after the confusion caused by a similar attempt to select Shawn Cooper as Women’s National Senior Team head coach.

“This is a major decision that requires careful collective consideration of many factors,” stated Look Loy, in an email sent to the entire board. “I caution you to proceed very carefully with this matter, and to call a meeting of the board to discuss this, which would be a major financial commitment by the TTFA—not to mention the technical considerations.”

Fellow board member Collin Partap, who represents the Central Football Association (CFA), echoed Look Loy’s position.

“Dear Mr President, please let us have a special board meeting to discuss this issue of an extension,” stated Partap. “This is a multi-year deal and I think it would be wise to first do a performance appraisal before we discuss this extension. This will tie into whatever plan we have to put Trinidad and Tobago back on the world stage, i.e. World Cup 2022.

“A decision like this cannot be made via email round robin; it is too important.”

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence (left) passes on instructions to Aubrey David (right) and Curtis Gonzales during 2018 World Cup qualifying action against Costa Rica at the National Stadium in San José on 13 June 2017.
Costa Rica won 2-1.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

Another board member, Pro League CEO Julia Baptiste, said she believed Lawrence deserved an extension but felt it should not be done via email.

“My personal belief is that Mr Lawrence should be given an extension,” stated Baptiste. “However, despite that, I also believe that it is a matter for the board of directors and should be ventilated at that forum before a final decision is made.”

Look Loy, whose FC Santa Rosa club have moved a motion of no confidence in the football president, described John-Williams’ approach to the board over his head coach as another example of his poor leadership.

“This is a multi-million dollar decision that cannot be taken by email from individuals,” said Look Loy. “I don’t what [Lawrence] is making and what are the terms; but you want me to say ‘yes’ by email for a multi-million dollar decision?

“He did not even copy the entire board into the email; he sent it to each member individually. So there was no attempt to even have the most minimal discussion. That is leadership as far as he is concerned and it is ridiculous.”

With the TTFA struggling financially and facing several High Court suits over its failure to satisfy employment contracts, Look Loy urged John-Williams to take a collaborative approach and avoid doing more harm to the local game.

Photo: FIFA president Gianni Infantino (right) and TTFA president David John-Williams at a press conference at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 10 April 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

“This is how we end up in problems,” said Look Loy. “We go and make an agreement with someone, we don’t know if we can pay him; and then we end up in problems. The issue here is how we go about our business.

“We need to have a full discussion, we need to have an analysis [of the situation]. But in the jaws of a motion to remove you, you are still moving like you don’t care.

“I am going to be raising it at the reconvened AGM [on Sunday]. This is not leadership.”

John-Williams is likely to be fighting for his own job on Sunday, with a no confidence motion among the tabled items at the TTFA’s reconvened AGM.

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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21 comments

  1. Why cant Lawerence have talks with an entity that is interested in him, John “owns” him? Also how come at this point the board doesnt know his terms and conditions?

  2. So why dey just can’t call an emergency or special meeting or however it is called? Not even ah Skype or zoom meeting. Come on man. He should take Wrexham.

  3. Imagine we are 100 plus years as a Football Association no coach has stayed longer than two year??? We really srs about goin somewhere as a Footballing Nation?? Get srs TTFA

  4. It’s clear that wired868 and its gang of clowns trying to make some more mischief again.

    How come we never hear about Look Loy’s role as a football coach at MSCS and the treatment he use to give his plays. How come we don’t see articles against the wrong Look Loy been doing in the SL. How come is alway something negative against DJW. And I don’t really care for DJW. But fear is fear. How come we always know all that’s wrong with the TTFA and DJW decisions, but can’t get the information about the allegations against Look Loy.. a man who was very bad to his players when he coach the MSCS. Looking players in rooms and useing abusive language towards the young boys. He show be lucky to still be in football. Only making confusion and trying to kill football because of his hatred towards DJW. Look Loy and his team is just on shit. Trying to block the deal that DJW is trying to get with DL. DL should leave this bacchanal and go back to the uk yes.

    • Lasana Liburd

      Just to be clear, you are saying I should stop following the current operations of the TTFA board and their attempt to sign National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence to a new contract…
      And that I should instead investigate what happened in the dressing room of a school team (and one of the most successful school teams of its time…) almost 30 years ago?
      Am I correct?

      • No. I’m saying you should give light to all side of the coins. And not show your hand as to being part of the personality witch hunt by Look Loy and a few. I’m saying let your reporting reflect the facts and not be one sided. Stop be a foot stool for Look Loy and his agenda. You come across are someone biased towards DJW.

      • No sir. I’m just asking for you to stop be biased towards djw and show all sides.

        • Lasana Liburd

          The accusation of bias is speculative and two people will not necessarily see things the same way. I prefer to be factual. That is undisputed.
          But you go investigate Malick and do a letter to the editor. Best wishes.

  5. This is a National Football Association, a parlour or a sole ownership?

  6. I think this is great news for Dennis because this an endorsement by his employer being viewed by another prospective employer. Of course I’d turn it down and go speak to Wrexham because the ttfa is clearly a sinking ship until DJW goes.

    • Malik Johnson I don’t think it is so much as an endorsement as it is the difficulty in finding another coach who would be willing to step in with all the bad reviews coming out of the organization …DJW is just trying a smart man move … again

    • ..But I know some people not buying..

      • It’s clear Keith Look Loy is trying to block the deal and do is best to make John-Williams Look bad as a tactic to have him remove. I’m sure no fan of David, but for God’s sake, whenbis football going to be the main reason we want to see things happen. Look Loy, from reading this article is just on foolishness. Time for LL to talk about all the shit this Look Loy been doing in the super L and is time as a coach in the school football L with Marlick.

    • He will use it as PR… “Lawrence turns down coaching job at Wrexham to stay as National Coach ”
      He doesn’t care about Lawrence he is looking for kudos. Choops.

    • His contract expires in January….he has all the cards in his hands and if he hasn’t been paid consistently ….. he’s gone

    • Malik in contrast, he could feasibly miss out on Wrexham, DJW gets fired and then he ends up in the cold too. Who can tell.
      He has to be careful with this decision for sure because this is his future.
      If DJW is serious, he should call that board meeting immediately. As in possibly tomorrow. If not, then maybe he doesn’t really want to keep Dennis.

    • Well we always have the interim SCF. Im sure he would have no probs taking over lol

    • Lasana agreed ……. DJW again wants to bypass the board to offer him an extension…… only a blind man can’t see a bad situation ……but you are right though he does have to tread carefully to ensure he doesn’t potentially miss out on both opportunities.

    • DJW haven’t paid the Primary School coaches….you think he will honor a two year contract…allyu really treating this man with kids gloves….. down the road Dennis turns down the Wrexham opportunity…stsysvhere and I six months there is money to pay him …. the young man better head back to where he played his ball and is respected….

  7. A smart young coach like Dennis should wait and if the Wrexham offer is valid then it would be a smart move for himself and his career.