Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams appears set to continue acting as emperor of the local football body’s Home of Football, after allegations that he created a committee to meet UEFA officials on the controversial project—inclusive of his daughter, Renee John-Williams—without board approval.
The ‘Home of Football committee’ will supposedly be asked to create recommendations for the running of the TTFA asset and will benefit from a UEFA-run workshop on the facility.
John-Williams did not respond to questions regarding the scope and composition of the committee. However, Wired868 was informed that W Connection chairman David Martin, T&T Beach Soccer president Kyle Lequay, SSFL general secretary and TTFA employee Azaad Khan, W Connection CEO and his daughter, Renee John-Williams and former W Connection goalkeeper Anthony “Cla Tones” Clarke—a vociferous supporter of ‘DJW’—are among its members.
John-Williams is the owner of the W Connection Football Club.
UEFA marketing consultant Kenny MacLeod told the TTFA Media that their four-day workshop in Trinidad will pay special attention to the future of the Home of Football in Couva.
“[Our] focus will be firstly, the commercialisation of this project—the Home of Football—and the understanding of how to put the structure and planning in place,” said MacLeod, “for the opening and the long-term sustainability of this project.
“We want to make sure that it’s benchmarked with what we do as [far as the] professionalisation of the sales process [and] the look and feel of what will be sold as part of this project.”
UEFA’s know-how, apparently, will be passed on to officials handpicked by John-Williams. TTFA board members Collin Partap and Keith Look Loy confirmed that the board was not even informed about a Home of Football committee, let alone invited to be involved in the selection process.
According to Article 36 of the TTFA constitution, the board of directors has the power to “set up ad-hoc committees if necessary at any time” and “shall pass decisions on all cases that do not come within the sphere of responsibility of the general meeting or are not reserved for other bodies by law or under this constitution.”
John-Williams, as TTFA president, is chairman of the board but does not have the constitutional authority to act without the approval of his colleagues.
Partap, an attorney at law and former MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla, said he was totally in the dark; and is not altogether surprised about that either.
“I have never heard of that committee,” Partap told Wired868. “I know there is a meeting tomorrow where board members were asked to attend a meet and greet with UEFA and Concacaf officials but no further details were given.
“Board members are supposed to know everything that is going in local football but instead we know nothing.”
Look Loy, who has taken the TTFA to the High Court for information related to the Home of Football, also said he was not informed about a committee related to the facility. And he was unimpressed with its supposed composition.
“From the construction of that committee, you can see it is a committee that John-Williams will control,” said Look Loy. “Because they seem to be made up of Connection members and employees of the TTFA and people who are beholden to John-Williams or the TTFA; that is not an independent committee at all.
“[…] Is it that this is one step towards turning the Home of Football into the W Connection training base or the W Connection technical centre? It reeks of nepotism.”
The TTFA board has not met since last November and the football body is obliged, according to the constitution, to have at least one board meeting every two months. Among the issues likely to be raised at the next conclave is the status of Men’s National Senior Team head coach Dennis Lawrence and the defunct Men’s National Under-17 Team, which should begin their Peru 2019 World Youth Cup campaign in roughly two months.
Partap, who has represented the Central Football Association (CFA) for less than a year, said nothing he experienced in his life—presumably including a tumultuous spell with the People’s Partnership—could prepare him for a seat on the TTFA board.
“I am so disenchanted as a board member with everything that is going on in football right now,” said Partap, who singled out the constant state of crisis in the preparation of national teams. “Nothing seems to be gong right and you can’t run football like this; there must be fundamental changes within the structure to start with and you need people who love football and are not just opportunists.
“[…] It is the first time in any organisation I’ve been in that there is this much disrespect for a board; and imagine the board is supposed to be running things.”
Partap pointed to discussions around a renewal for Lawrence—whose two and a half year contract ends on 31 July 2019—as an example of the bizarre manner in which John-Williams tries to run the local game.
“At the last AGM, we asked that details of [Lawrence’s] contract be given to the board, so we could at least see what we were voting on,” said Partap, “and the president said we should be able to vote without seeing a contract. How can you vote on something you can’t see?
“[…] For all I know, Dennis Lawrence already has a new contract now that was not approved by the board. I wouldn’t be surprised with the way they operate here.”
The TTFA’s AGM will be reconvened from 3pm on Sunday at the Cycling Velodrome in Couva, with stakeholders due to discuss constitutional amendments, the 2019 budget and ‘other business.’
Look Loy hopes to get the approval of members to raise the status of general secretary Latapy-George and his presumed replacement, Camara David.
John-Williams has allegedly intimated that Latapy-George’s contract will not be renewed beyond this month and he took David—rather than his current general secretary—to a FIFA workshop in Barbados last month. The workshop was meant for regional football presidents, general secretaries and financial managers. David was none of the above.
“If time permits, I am going to raise the issue of the TTFA general secretary and Camara David, who doesn’t exist within the firmament of TTFA and who is not an employee or associated with any body within local football,” said Look Loy, “but is always sitting at TTFA meetings and went to Barbados for the FIFA forward workshop.
“I want to know what is his status and I want the president, who attended that workshop, to confirm his presence there and tells under whose authority and under what role and function did he attend that meeting, which was meant for either the president, general secretary or financial manager—of which [David] is neither.
“I want to know who paid for Camara to go. If the TTFA paid for his transportation and room and board, then that is a fraud committed on the [TTFA’s coffers]; and if FIFA paid, that is a fraud on FIFA.”
In the midst of the internal turmoil, MacLeod and UEFA internal relations project specialist Chris Milnes are ostensibly trying to assist the local football body. MacLeod also vowed to help the TTFA conduct an operational review and will offer further assistance to the Pro League.
“The second area which we will be looking at will be the TTFA themselves,” said MacLeod. “They are coming to an area and time when [they must] push on with a lot of projects they have… We are going to start an operational review, which will allow them to put together a five year plan to really see them through [and] develop the sport in this country.
“[…] We will look to see what progress has been made with the League over the past four or five months [since our last meeting] to the point where we can put a new plan in place for them to develop as well.”
Pro League interim chairman Richard Fakoory told Wired868 last week that they are yet to reconfigure their board in the manner suggested by UEFA, which changes the structure from 10 club owners to four owners, two independent members and one TTFA official.
However, Fakoory said teams are generally happy to adjust for the betterment of the local game.