Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) board member and TTSL president Keith Look Loy hailed a ‘complete victory’ over football president David John-Williams this afternoon, after the High Court ordered John-Williams to make all financial information related to the local football body available to the claimant within seven days.
Look Loy, who was appointed to the TTFA board in January 2018, turned to the courts after his repeated requests for information related to the controversial Home of Football project were either ignored by John-Williams or only offered on various conditions, including that the administrator sign a non-disclosure agreement.
However, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh rubbished John-Williams’ stance as he ordered the TTFA president to not only make the requested information available within a week but to also permit Look Loy to make copies.
Once more, John-Williams was stuck with not only the cost of his legal team but must also pick up the tab for Look Loy’s attorneys as well—expenses that must again be borne by the cash strapped local football body.
Crucially too, John-Williams’ stalling encouraged Look Loy to widen the scope of his enquiry to not just the Home of Football but every cent spent during the president’s tenure, which began on 30 November 2015.
Look Loy told Wired868 that he will immediately hire a forensic accountant to help shine light on the secret spending of the John-Williams-led administration, which has been kept hidden from even board members.
“I asked for names for all the contractors who worked [on the Home of Football] in Couva, what they worked for, who gave them the contracts, how much money has been spent, where the works have reached, etc,” said Look Loy. “But I also asked for the ledger of the TTFA from November 2015 to present. Why? Because it is the daily record of income and expenditure of the TTFA that tells the entire day by day history of the [football body] until March 2019.
“I am expecting we will find information on a lot of questions we have been asking including what is the TTFA’s relationship with I95.5FM, etc.
“It is extensive work but it is work that has to be done for us to ascertain the true financial status of the TTFA and to find out who has been spending money, what has the money been spent on and who has been receiving the money.”
Look Loy was represented by attorneys Matthew Gayle, Dr Emir Crowne and Crystal Paul. Anand Missir was retained by the TTFA.
John-Williams never denied that Look Loy was authorised to receive the information requested, according to the TTFA’s constitution. However, his legal team argued that world governing body, FIFA, was keen on a certain level of confidentiality for the project, that Look Loy ought to have used in-house arbitration before approaching the courts and the High Court was not the right forum to settle the dispute in any case since, they claimed, the TTFA was not a public body.
Justice Boodoosingh gave short shrift to each point as he pointed out that the TTFA was incorporated by an act of Parliament and the entire public has a stake in the going-ons of the national football body. And he chided John-Williams for trying to stand behind an alleged suggestion by FIFA, which the president did not support with documentation.
“The judge made the point that transparency and accountability are necessary in the modern world and those who have nothing to hide shouldn’t be afraid of the light,” said Look Loy. “And he said the TTFA and FIFA should have seized the opportunity to lay everything bare; but, even if FIFA said there should have been no disclosure, the TTFA should have rejected it and made the information available [for the sake of] the image of the game.
“Even if this type of thing happened before, it must not happen again. He actually made the point that public organisations cannot be run like private fiefdoms.”
The High Court’s ruling compounded a miserable month of March for John-Williams. Last week, Concacaf banned all Trinidad and Tobago clubs from participating in its competitions, due to the TTFA’s failure to properly implement the club licensing requirements—which means Pro League teams cannot compete at senior Concacaf Champions League or Under-13 level.
Now, just eight months before John-Williams is due to face the electorate for a second term in office, the football president is forced to open his books to an indefatigable critic of his behaviour at the helm of the football body.
Look Loy suggested that his court victory was a win for transparency—in and out of the football community.
“First of all, I want to thank [my attorney] Matthew Gayle for doing a terrific job,” he said. “It feels good to know that I won—even though I had to take part in a 14 month odyssey. For people who are fighting for transparency and accountability in the national arena, at least we know that we can have recourse and justice from the courts.
“On a personal level, I feel good to know I did the right thing and the court supported it… In the absence of factual information, speculation will thrive. Now we will go and see what we find.”