On 27 December 2017, Trinidad and Tobago Super League president Keith Look Loy formally asked seven questions of Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president David John-Williams related to the controversial Home of Football project.
Thirteen months on, John-Williams has not yet responded conclusively; but it could be Look Loy who pays the political price for his persistence, as TTSL member clubs push to remove the latter official from the TTFA board.
Look Loy, who is also the club president of FC Santa Rosa, sees a link between his ongoing tussle for transparency within the TTFA and a petition to strip him of his board role, which was unveiled yesterday by San Fernando Giants official Anthony “Cla Tones” Clarke.
Clarke, a former player with John-Williams’ W Connection club, is an open supporter of the TTFA president and was a member of a committee on the Home of Football that met with a delegation from Concacaf and UEFA. The committee was not sanctioned by the TTFA board.
Seven months ago, Look Loy filed a request in the High Court meant to force John-Williams to reveal the money spent on the Home of Football, the contractors involved and everything else related to the project. The football president continues to resist the request, although the constitution states that the board—and not the president—is in charge of all operations of the football body.
“I am fully convinced that the efforts to remove me as a board member are linked to the court case,” Look Loy told Wired868, “because the court case says that, as a board member, I have a right to request information on the Home of Football project.
“I believe this move to remove me as a board member takes away that right and [hopes that] the court will then deny me that access. Feeding into that are people who have a personal pain because they didn’t play last year; and that is being used by the higher echelons in football, who are trying to stop my campaign for transparency and good governance.”
Clarke denied Look Loy’s suggested motive and insisted that several TTSL clubs now saw Look Loy as being an obstructionist on the TTFA board and were unhappy with his representation.
He pointed to FC Santa Rosa’s unsuccessful attempt to remove John-Williams, at the last TTFA AGM, as part of an agenda that did not sit well with other TTSL clubs. Look Loy is president of Santa Rosa.
Clarke said it has become impossible to divorce ‘Look Loy the club owner’ from ‘Look Loy the TTSL president and TTFA board member’.
“He stated his agenda clearly which is to remove the president of the TTFA,” said Clarke. “If it was a Santa Rosa agenda that is okay but in the AGM he said he, Keith Look Loy, would not stop until the president of the TTFA is removed. He didn’t say Santa Rosa and he never corrected himself.
“[…] He is taking a personal position where he is representing a body. He cannot say that on behalf of all the clubs of the TTSL; he must speak to the club members.
“Is this the proper man to represent us seeing that he has this agenda?”
Guaya United president Randy Hagley, who took responsibility for starting the petition for an extraordinary general meeting to remove Look Loy, echoed Clarke’s discomfort at the TTSL boss’ public wrangling with John-Williams.
“You see this constant public criticisms and disgracing the office of the TTFA, well the clubs are a member of the TTFA so that is a problem,” said Hagley. “Keith [Look Loy] has not been a proper representation for us. He is not doing anything for the good of football, he is only fighting John-Williams.
“I told Keith [Look Loy] we will never get a sponsor once he is president because corporate Trinidad and Tobago will never want to be associated with that bacchanal.”
The reasons for removing Look Loy, according to the petition, were:
- Constant public disgracing of the TTSL (sic) President through numerous social media comments, posts and interviews bringing the TTSL, TTFA, its members and the football brand into unnecessary disrepute;
- Undersigning a motion for the removal of the President of the TTFA representing his personal club interest, which by extension, represents the office of the President of the TTSL, which was not instructed by the general meeting at any time therefore constituting a clear conflict of interest;
- Openly stating your unwillingness to assist the TTFA Board of Directors in its affairs, particularly when asked to assist the Technical Committee on numerous occasions. The membership of the TTSL does not promote or condone this sort of negative arrogance;
- Wrongful manipulation of the TTSL Constitution whereby you instructed the TTSL’s general meeting that TTFA Board of Directors suspended all non-compliant members voting rights in the TTSL, which was not the case.
In fact, the decision to suspend non-compliant TTSL members was taken—and then reversed—by the TTFA general membership and not Look Loy. And the TTFA has not had a functioning Technical Committee since four members resigned in January 2018.
Asked to give examples of Look Loy’s ‘poor leadership’, Hagley pointed to the lack of prize money over the past two seasons and three points deducted from Guaya last season, after they failed to travel with two uniforms—as mandated—for an away game against UTT FC.
Hagley admitted to personality clashes with Look Loy in the past. He shared a Whats App conversation with the TTSL president from December in which they traded barbs over a High Court victory for the National Futsal Team over the TTFA—which Hagley described as a “sad day in sports for T&T.”
The Guaya boss complained that Look Loy called him ‘stupid’ and did not conduct himself properly as the league president.
(Whats App Excerpt)
Hagley: We were deducted six points and everyone was happy…
Look Loy: You lost those points because of POOR management.
Hagley: The game against UTT you made that decision to give them the points.
Look Loy: Don’t be stupid. Rules are there to be followed. The committee decided that.
Hagley: I am not stupid as you my friend. The committee is you and you alone.
Ironically, UTT head coach Clayton Morris, who is also the National Futsal Team head coach, told Wired868 earlier that much of the dissatisfaction with Look Loy was—in his opinion—based on personal grouses.
“Just about three weeks ago, there was this thing where some clubs said they were going to form their own league; now all of a sudden they want the president to move,” said Morris. “They are saying they are dissatisfied with how the league is run but this is probably as smooth as the Super League has ever run; so I don’t understand.
“[…] I spoke to a couple of them and they told me they have beef or a personal thing with the [TTSL] president. It has nothing to do with the running of the league.
“For me, Keith [Look Loy] is the only voice—or the clearest voice—asking the TTFA president to account for things we are not sure about. If we want the football to succeed, we need to make the president accountable as stakeholders.”
At present, the TTSL has 22 member clubs. Eight have not supported Hagley’s petition. They are: Queen’s Park Cricket Club, Club Sando FC, FC Santa Rosa, RSSR FC, Bethel United, Prisons FC, UTT and Police FC.
From the remaining 14, Look Loy claimed three clubs said they were misrepresented or tricked into signing.
Metal X Erin FC representative Jason Charles supposedly felt the petition was for a discussion of issues related to the TTSL president rather than his removal from the TTFA board while WASA FC’s Lennon Jones was also said to have made an about-turn.
However, Wired868 could not independently confirm this.
Look Loy claimed that San Fernando Giants—ironically, represented by Clarke on the petition—did not sanction their support for the extraordinary general meeting.
Clarke admitted he had not consulted the club but accused Look Loy of stirring up trouble.
“What [Look Loy] did was he called a colleague at San Fernando Giant and said I, as club president, signed a petition for his removal,” said Clarke. “So of course the members of the board of the San Fernando Giants said it was not discussed with them yet as far as picking a side, which I agree with. But the petition is for a special general meeting of the members to discuss the issue and not to remove him.
“[…] When I informed them what the petition was about, they called a meeting for tonight and I am certain that letter [disavowing the club from the petition] would be revoked. So they were misinformed.”
The sole agenda item on the petition read: ‘Removal of President Keith Look Loy as the TTSL Representative on the TTFA Board of Directors with immediate effect’.
Erin FC and San Fernando Giants apart, the other 11 signatories were: Guaya United, Cunupia FC, Matura Re-United, Petit Valley/Diego Martin United (PVDMU), Defence Force, Harlem Strikers, Marabella FCC, Siparia Spurs, Youth Stars, Central 500 and Tobago 1976 Phoenix FC.
Only four of those teams—Guaya, Cunupia, Matura and PVDMU—actually competed in the TTSL last season. Another three—Siparia Spurs, Youth Stars and Central 500—are supposedly set to be declared non-compliant although that has not been confirmed by the TTFA.
Curiously, Hagley’s petition also includes Perseverance FC, which is not a TTSL member.
According to the TTSL constitution, decisions can be taken with only a simple majority. If all 22 clubs are allowed to vote, Clarke and Hagley could have half of the vote and would need just one backer from Giants, WASA FC and Erin FC to have their way.
If the non-compliant members are debarred, then Look Loy might manage just enough support to survive politically.
Naturally, the two parties disagree on the rights of non-compliant clubs.
“To participate in football you must be compliant with the TTFA but to vote for a motion in the TTSL, you only have to be a shareholder,” said Clarke. “The general membership of the TTSL has not suspended any member or any shareholder; so therefore all shareholders are still eligible to vote on any member within the TTSL.”
Look Loy admitted that the TTSL constitution did not speak specifically to the rights of non-compliant clubs. Ironically, the TTSL general membership were supposed to vote on the removal of voting rights for inactive clubs last weekend, only for the Concacaf/UEFA workshop to postpone their special meeting by one week.
That motion will be tabled tomorrow.
“You could be non-compliant and do remain a member of the league,” said Look Loy. “Nobody can take that right from you, unless you are demoted or don’t play for two seasons… But we saw that anomaly last year when one club pays its TT$45,000 registration fee to play and another club just pays the nominal fee of TT$1,000 to be a shareholder; and the two clubs have the same rights.
“[…] Any good constitution or set of bylaws will evolve over time. Things that become glaringly obvious today, you will say how you didn’t see that before.”
Look Loy will seek advice on the issue of compliance before he responds to Hagley’s petition.
“TTSL membership and the ability to play football is subject to being TTFA compliant,” said Look Loy. “People seem not to understand these fine distinctions.”
The appointment of a TTSL representative to the board is another grey area, which is not dealt with specifically by the constitution. Article 17.2 (d) comes closest as it states that the TTSL president is primarily responsible for ‘relations between Members, the TTFA and other bodies’.
“In all the regional associations and with other members, their boards—and not their general membership—select the persons who will represent them on the TTFA board,” said Look Loy. “That is the general, accepted practice across the TTFA.”
The TTSL board comprises of: Look Loy, Morris, Eddie Dean (Club Sando), Colin Murray (QPCC), George Joseph (Bethel United), Jameson Rigues (formerly Guaya) and Peter Thomas (general secretary).
The TTSL executive has 21 days to accede to the call for an extraordinary general council meeting on Look Loy’s potential removal from the TTFA board. At present, the TTSL president said he is looking into the validity of the request from the aggrieved clubs.
“We are trying to verify the issue of compliance with the TTFA,” said Look Loy. “We have to look at if they cross the 50 percent threshold to call the meeting—because it is 50 percent of who is eligible to vote. The threshold [if the three non-compliant members are excluded] then would be 10 clubs.
“We had documentation from Erin and San Fernando Giants to the effect that they have withdrawn and I expect more. But the minimum notice is 21 days, so I am trying to make sure that everything is in place; so that when we respond it is accurate.”
Hagley and Clarke voiced concern about Look Loy’s calls to check on the validity of the signatures on the petition.
“He is calling the owners of Defence Force, Harlem, etcetera and asking their bosses to rescind their signature from the list,” said Hagley. “But he can’t call my boss; my boss is Jesus.”
One club representative, under condition of anonymity, claimed he received a phone call from John-Williams on the TTSL. The TTFA president, he alleged, was enquiring about his support for the proposed changes to the second tier competition, which includes an injection of cash—from TTFA/SPORTT—for clubs as prize money and to run their operations as well as the removal of their registration fee.
John-Williams did not mention Look Loy or the petition specifically but he had made his view clear in the past.
“He said that Keith [Look Loy] is unworkable,” said the official.
The official suggested that several club representatives were caught in two minds about Hagley’s petition. Look Loy, he said, will not win many prizes for congeniality. But he said he saw the combative administrative as more of an asset than a liability for his work on the TTFA board.
“To be honest, some teams do feel that some of the issues raised about Look Loy have some truth to it,” he said. “Some clubs do feel damaged by Look Loy’s decisions at times. But we have to think about what the bigger picture, which is difficult at times…”
(How they voted)
Did not support petition:
8 clubs: Queen’s Park Cricket Club, Club Sando FC, FC Santa Rosa, RSSR FC, Bethel United, Prisons FC, UTT and Police FC;
11 clubs: Guaya United, Cunupia FC, Matura Re-United, Petit Valley/Diego Martin United, Defence Force, Harlem Strikers, Marabella FCC, Siparia Spurs*, Youth Stars*, Central 500*, 1976 Phoenix FC*;
(Asterisk means there is uncertainty regarding the club’s compliance).
3 clubs: San F’do Giants, Metal X Erin FC, WASA FC.