The David John-Williams-led Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) was enveloped by fresh chaos today as the body’s bank account was frozen, due to a court order requested by members of the National Futsal Team.
TTFA general secretary Camara David and president John-Williams were informed of the development today by First Citizens Bank, which received a garnishee order from the High Court.
The legal manoeuvre, instigated by attorney Melissa Roberts-John on behalf of the Futsal team, is the latest twist in a three year battle between the two parties. On 13 December 2018, Justice Margaret Y Mohammed awarded 15 Trinidad and Tobago National Futsal players and five technical staff members roughly TT$475,743 plus interest at three per cent per annum for unpaid salaries, match fees, per diems and expenses.
The TTFA was also ordered to pay the Futsal Team’s legal costs of TT$69,200.82.
The High Court ruled that the local football body was to pay immediately. However, TTFA asked the claimants for 28 days’ grace to get the money together. Instead, John-Williams instructed his attorney, Annand Misir, to file an appeal.
More than three months after their court win, National Futsal Team head coach Clayton Morris said they had had enough of John-Williams’ stalling.
“We have run out of patience,” Morris told Wired868. “All the guys thought they were getting something extra for Christmas; but Christmas and then Carnival come and gone and now Easter is coming.
“The behaviour of John-Williams has been really disappointing but I wasn’t surprised because I have gotten to realise the character I am dealing with. He is someone who doesn’t care about the time, effort and commitment that people give towards football.
“Today is the 18th and almost three months after the High Court said we should be paid immediately, we still haven’t been paid. So definitely the guys are out of patience.”
The Futsal players who succeeded in the court action are: captain Jerwyn Balthazar, Kevin Graham, Adrian Pirthysingh, Colin Joseph, Kerry Joseph, Jameel Neptune, Ishmael Daniel, Anthony Small, Kevaughn Connell, Keston Guy, Kareem Perry, Jamel Lewis, Noel Williams, Bevon Bass and Cyrano Glen—whose elder brother Cornell Glen was one of 13 Soca Warriors who successfully sued the TTFA in the landmark ‘2006 World Cup bonus dispute’.
The technical staff members are: Morris (head coach), Ronald Brereton (manager), Sterling O’Brian (assistant coach), Perry Martin (goalkeeper coach) and Brent Elder (trainer).
The TTFA has never activated its legal committee under the current president and, in its absence, John-Williams has thrown the local football body into a host of legal cases on his own volition—often without discussions or consensus at board level.
Justice Mohammed made it clear in her ruling that she was decidedly unimpressed with the football president.
“In my opinion it was disingenuous for the [TTFA] to adopt the position it took with respect to the payment of the monthly stipends, per diem and match fees to the [Futsal] technical staff and the players respectively,” stated Justice Mohammed, “since based on the [TTFA’s] conduct, it actively led the [Futsal Team] to believe that nothing had changed and that the [TTFA] would have honoured the oral agreement made by Mr Tim Kee on behalf of the [TTFA].
“[…] In cross-examination, Mr John-Williams’ evidence on this issue was entirely discredited.”
The TTFA has not issued a statement on the legal decision with John-Williams and David opting, as is customary, for silence and urging board members to follow their lead. David has refused to comment to Wired868 and is understood to be attempting to introduce a formal media blackout for all TTFA office staff and coaches.
As Master Sherlanne Pierre set a date of 4 April 2019 to hear both sides on the matter, the TTFA will almost certainly be unable to pay salaries at the end of March. It is likely that the ruling could also force a delay in the payment of match fees to the Men’s National Senior Team players, who tackle Wales in an international friendly in Wrexham on Wednesday.
The court ruling follows on the heels of a Concacaf ban on Trinidad and Tobago clubs, due to the TTFA’s alleged failure to properly implement a club licensing set-up. The local football body has also operated without a technical director—a mandatory position according to FIFA—since January 14 when Anton Corneal downed tools and stated that he was “tired of the disrespectful and inhumane manner in which I have been treated by the President of the Association.”
John-Williams was also criticised, earlier this year, for his failure to activate 14 of the TTFA’s mandated 16 standing committees by FIFA IFAB board member and 2006 World Cup goalkeeper Shaka Hislop, TTOC president Brian Lewis, TTFA board member Keith Look Loy, UWI Sports Management lecturer Sherlan Cabralis, management consultant and ex-TIDCO president Brian Harry and management accountant and ex-Trinidad and Tobago Hockey Board (TTHB) official Kendall Tull.
Today, the Barbados Nation News unveiled Trinidad and Tobago National Under-20 Team head coach and TTFA youth football staff coach Russell Latapy as the Barbados National Senior Team head coach-in-waiting.
Latapy is still owed a substantial amount in wages by the TTFA and has criticised John-Williams’ treatment of him in the recent past.
Look Loy, who is also the Trinidad and Tobago Super League (TTSL) president, said the order freezing the TTFA’s bank account was ‘entirely avoidable’ and ‘further evidence, if we need any, of the mismanagement of the TTFA and its finances’.
“In real terms, with month end fast approaching, this means no TTFA staff can be paid and all programmes—already comatose as they are—will grind to a halt,” said Look Loy. “This is the consequence of DJW’s failure to activate the Association’s legal committee, which advises the board on legal matters, and his preference for unilateral action on legal matters as opposed to board discussion.”
Look Loy, who is a member of the newly formed seven-member Commission to handle the UEFA-proposed merger of the Pro League and TTSL, reiterated his stance that the local top tier leagues would be crazy to put its finances in the TTFA’s accounts.
“On the heels of Concacaf’s ban on TTFA clubs from the Caribbean Club Championship, this is a double whammy,” said Look Loy. “Moreover, this unfortunate development substantiates my stance that state monies for the proposed League should not be given to TTFA, as there is no shortage of TTFA creditors who may follow suit on the Futsal action.
“What more do the members of TTFA need to see to remove this man from office?!”
On the weekend, only five from the TTFA’s 49 delegates were present for the start of the reconvened AGM and John-Williams was forced to abort the meeting, as there was nothing close to the quorum necessary to address proposed constitutional amendments.
Look Loy suggested that the dwindling attendances was due to the partisan nature of meetings under the current president and the feeling that nothing was changing.
“In my estimation, at least some members believe attending meetings is becoming increasingly redundant,” he said, “as logic is being overwhelmed by political allegiance to the status quo.”
Northern Football Association (NFA) president Anthony Harford agreed emphatically with Look Loy.
“I think people are suffering from fatigue, because these meetings go on for the entire day and we never discuss the serious business of football,” said Harford. “We spend the entire time outing fires and discussing the misdeeds of the administration and people are just getting tired of it, as David [John-Williams] has shown that he has the required numbers to win a vote.
“[…] People are fed up of asking questions and not getting answers… [John-Williams] seems to be like the Trinidad version of Donald Trump, where you see so many cases for impeachment and yet the man seems impervious to everything; and just continues to lie and deceive people.”