Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and his United TTFA slate spent much of the past three months railing against the Switzerland-based pair of Fifa and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).
At present, the TTFA’s elected officers, Wallace and vice-presidents Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick and Sam Phillip, are asking the High Court to help them resist removal by a Fifa-appointed normalisation committee—having declared their lack of faith in the fair-handedness of the CAS.
But time will tell whether the scheming of the English duo of Peter Miller and Terry Fenwick did far more damage to the Wallace-led administration.
A financial breakdown of the TTFA’s expected expenditure for 2020 tells its own tale of how highly Wallace valued the pair:
- Salaries for roughly a dozen office employees: TT$2 million;
- Salaries for roughly 40 technical staff members: TT$2.8 million;
- Salaries for Fenwick and Miller: TT$3.6 million.
Fenwick’s job was to match Stephen Hart by taking the Soca Warriors back into the top 50 nations in the world and the top six—at least—in Concacaf. Miller promised to find the money to erase the local body’s debt; and, simultaneously, to bankroll its revamped technical plans and a three-tiered local league.
The jury is out on Fenwick, who is months away from his first competitive international. But Miller has already offered enough to be judged on, even if one generously overlooks his chequered past.
Miller, according to Wallace, promised to bring in TT$40 million over four years—exclusive of a fanciful Arima Velodrome development scheme, valued at an additional TT$50 million for the TTFA.
So, Miller calculated 20 percent of that sponsorship largesse at TT$8 million and, according to the Newsday, presented Wallace with a contract which guaranteed he would be paid that figure as a flat salary—irrespective, it appears, of whether he actually delivered the big bucks.
Any seasoned businessman would have tossed Miller out on his ear. Wallace apparently asked: ‘Where do I sign?’
Take the Avec Sport deal for instance. No really, take it please—anywhere!
If you didn’t laugh, I can’t blame you. Too soon.
The bare essentials of Trinidad and Tobago’s mooted four year sponsorship from unheralded British apparel company, Avec Sport, was that it would offer the TTFA roughly TT$5.2 million in kit—but only once the local body purchased, or had its sponsors buy, TT$10.25 million in merchandise.
Wallace described the deal as ‘unprecedented’ with ‘unrivalled terms for the supply of kit’ and the start of a ‘completely fresh and exciting partnership which sits perfectly as part of the new era for Trinidad and Tobago football’.
He was right on every count, although perhaps not in the way he expected.
Clause 5.6 of the Avec contract states that the TTFA will only get its free gear or ‘gifted pro allowance’ on the proviso that:
- a) the approved retail partner (in this case, Sports and Games) purchase a minimum of 7,500 replica shirts in each contract year from the company; and
- b) the Association’s sponsors will purchase in each contract year a minimum of 125,000 pounds (TT$1,046,000) worth of other products at wholesale values…
- And in the event that [Sports and Games] or the Association’s sponsors fail to reach the minimum purchase requirements, the Association agrees to pay Avec Sport the full value of the gifted pro kit allowance already received by the association.
Avec priced its adult replicas at US$29.65 (TT$201) while the retail price for Soca Warriors replicas under the previous sponsor, Joma, was US$44 (TT$300).
With a profit split of 80-20 between the TTFA and Sports and Games, Wired868 crunched the figures to find out how many replicas the local body must sell to get their uniforms for ‘free’.
If Sports and Games sold 37,000 replicas over four years, the pay-out would be:
- S&G (TT$740,000), TTFA (TT$110,000 plus kit), Avec Sport (TT$10.25 million).
The TTFA claimed the deal was worth TT$25 million in cash and kind. Since they get TT$5 million in kit, we also worked out how many replicas must be sold to match their valuation—bearing in mind the TTFA still has to spend over TT$10 million to get the uniforms.
If Sports and Games sold 110,000 replicas over four years, the money would be shared:
- S&G (TT$2.2 million), TTFA (TT$30.8 million) and Avec Sport (TT$10.25 million).
So what’s a realistic target for replica sales?
“Once the team is doing well, we can sell about 100 replicas a month,” said Fan Club operations director Mario Singh. “So, we could sell 1,200 comfortably in a year—but it depends on how well the teams are doing.”
The Fan Club has one store in Trincity Mall. Sports and Games has nine nationwide. If each branch sells as well as the other over the next three years, with some help from the Warriors’ overseas fans (and minus a lost year due to Covid-19’s impact on the football calendar in 2020)…
The TTFA could feasibly sell enough to ensure they don’t pay for their own uniforms. But there is little doubt about which party stands to benefit most from this deal.
Clause 5.5 states: ‘all invoices [for the replicas and merchandise that the TTFA must accept along with the free kit] must be paid by the Association before the company will ship the products’.
And clause 5.7 reiterates: ‘the approved retail partner, the other retail partners and Association’s sponsors are required to pay for the products that they purchase and the shipping costs of those products in advance of shipping, and it is the Association’s responsibility to ensure [compliance]’.
Wired868 sent the contract to two companies with vast experience in multi-million dollar clothing deals. Both agreed to offer feedback on the condition of anonymity, so as not to criticise a possible business partner or rival.
The first source is an administrator with regional experience securing sponsorship deals including Adidas and Puma.
Wired868: What are you thoughts on the Avec Sport sponsorship?
Anonymous administrator: “I ran it past my attorney for his take and his words are it is not a sponsorship at all. It is a sales contract.
“The TTFA has to pay for the stock that it gets, so in that context it is a sales contract. A sponsorship contract looks very different to this.”
Wired868: Would you have signed?
Administrator: “I would not have signed this and I would never advise anyone to do that. The main reason I say that is clause 5.5-7.
“You are basically telling us if 125,000 pounds worth of merchandise and 7,500 replica is not taken and paid for, then you have to pay for goods you have received. This is not a sponsorship contract, this is a sales contract—and that is not our core business.
“Also having to pay for the shipping and send that payment in advance is unusual. We have done a lot of deals with companies like Adidas and Puma and normally they pay for shipping and you pay the duties.
“It is either the contract was not read or vetted; but it was not intended to be favourable to TTFA. And there is no ambiguity. It uses words like ‘shall’, ‘will’ and ‘must’ and holds the TTFA responsible for all payment. I have never seen that in a sponsorship contract.”
The second person to share his thoughts is a North America-based sport agent.
“There is no schedule of bonuses for Gold Cup or World Cup qualification and given the new qualifying format that is a still a possibility,” he said. “That seems very strange and potential money is left on the table. Also the four year deal takes you to about halfway through the qualification for the 2026 World Cup; and there is nothing about a chance to extend, based on performance of the team either.”
And what about issues with what actually is in the contract?
“In clause 5.3, it says the TTFA is responsible for shipping costs—this is a red flag,” he said. “Also clause 5.4 says extra items need to be paid for and shipping paid in advance while 5.6 says the free items given to TTFA are given on the condition the retail partners buy 7,500 replica shirts per year and sponsors buy 125,000 pounds worth of products.
“I’d say clause 13.1 is very vague about termination of the contract. And there are no specified delivery dates for the products! Another red flag! My take here is that this was not closely reviewed by a contract attorney.”
Clause 13.1 states either member can terminate agreement based on: ‘distress or executive levied upon its goods or effects’, ‘winding up or insolvency proceedings commenced against it’ or ‘material breach of its obligations [which] continues un-remedied for 30 to 90 days’.
Curiously, clause 14.3 states that: ‘until such time as the property in the goods passes to the Association, the Association shall hold the goods as the Company’s fiduciary agent and bailee and shall keep the goods properly stored, protected and insured’; while 14.4 states: ‘[…] the Company may at any time require the Association to deliver up the goods to the Company and, if the Association fails to do so forthwith’ enter on any premises of the Association or any third party where the goods are store and repossess the goods’.
Wired868 confirmed with a senior TTFA source that the Avec Sport contract, which was publicly unveiled on 26 February, was not vetted by an independent attorney or anyone with experience in the sponsorship field.
Wallace depended solely on Miller.
Wired868 noted the concerns about the contract by our sources and was told that Wallace and general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan also had misgivings. These were apparently assuaged after an explanation from Miller, which was forwarded to us.
So here is Miller’s complete explanation as to how he valued the Avec Sport deal at TT$25 million to the TTFA and why the local football body has nothing to worry about.
“Hi William/Ramesh. As promised earlier for your reference here is a rough break down of a ‘commercial valuation’ for the purposes of press release to media and not reflective of a cash-only value specific to a formalized contract between two parties.
“Example: Avec. Gift of Kit (over 4 years) US$1,400,000.
“Annual requirement to sell replicas 7,500 replicas x 4 years = 30,000 replicas x US$70 (being the full retail price sold to the general public) = US$2,100,000.
“Annual merchandise requirement 125,000 pounds (US$163,000) x 4 = 500,000 pounds (US$652,000) x average retail mark up to market 50% = US$978,000
“Total US$4,478,000 = TT$30,274,674.”
Two things. First, Miller uses a retail valuation of US$70 (TT$470) for the Soca Warriors replicas. Based on our checks, that overstates the value by US$25 (TT$170) per jersey.
And since the ‘merchandise’ due to the TTFA and its wholesale prices are unknown, it is impossible to calculate whether his ‘average retail mark up’ is accurate. (Wired868 put the entire stock of 125,000 pounds into replicas, so as to work out a costing.)
So Miller’s figures can neither be proven nor disproved.
Second, Wired868 worked out the cost of each piece of equipment provided to the national teams barring caps and bags, since Avec Sport did not offer wholesale prices for those. The TTFA will get roughly US$740,000 (TT$5 million) worth of jerseys, pants, socks and track suits over the four year period.
For Miller’s figure of US$1.4 (TT$9.5) million to be accurate, it would mean that Avec Sport are sending US$660,000 (TT$4.5 million) worth of sport bags and caps for Trinidad and Tobago’s national teams over the next four years.
But do continue your explanation, Mr Miller.
“Obviously there are costs within this valuation; purchase of equipment/merchandise, shipping costs and import duties, profit share percentages to retail outlets (Sports & Games) or international online eCommerce partners—but also arguably there are other costs that could be included that are more difficult to calculate such as perimeter advertising boards, branding rights, media/PR values etc.
“Additionally, one must consider and appreciate additional spend of partners such as Sports & Games who will spend their own money to advertise, promote and market TTFA product to ensure that our expectations of them are fulfilled.
“For differing levels of sponsorship deals, we will utilize more sophisticated third parties to evaluate these multiples however, in doing so, there is obviously a cost to that and as such we would only use those services when the overall cash value of a deal warranted such expense.
“Likewise commercial deals can be valued based upon where a rights holder (TTFA) is currently positioned and where that rights holder may be in the future. Example: we have negotiated a deal worth $25,000,000 whilst ranked #104 in the world and only having won one game in years.
“What value would be placed on our same rights in three years if we have qualified for Gold Cups and World Cups at differing levels etc? How many replica jerseys would we be selling then? How much will we be charging for perimeter boards then?
“So, as you can see, ‘press release valuations’ have many moving parts—this is not because we are fabricating the truth, it is because these valuations have differing meanings depending on how you are assessing them—from a perspective of a ‘kit deal’ this is standard, nothing untoward.
“However, the issue here is that unfortunately no one in T&T has ever negotiated a proper kit deal since 2006 (and aside of that one JAW deal going to a WC) no one before that with the exception of me in 2000!!!
“It should also be reiterated that sponsorships can only be truly valued based upon their viability—without the proper infrastructure it wouldn’t matter what the value was, the deliverables would not be possible.
“With specific regard to Avec, this is why securing the Sports & Games partnership is so important. Far more important than a cash up front deal from S&G, as this provides the TTFA with a gateway to sell its contractually obligated numbers. From this point we will add online sales, international eCommerce sales specifically to T&T demographics globally (Miami, New York, Toronto, London etc).
“Why we will now seek to establish (in partnership with S&G and without cost to TTFA) retail outlets in Piarco and Tobago International Airports duty free areas; all of this without a TTFA salaried marketing/commercial staff or a budget to work with.
“Clearly over the past four years, the DJW administration didn’t have the experience, contacts or expertise to deliver just a kit deal alone (let alone an entire marketing and commercial strategy). Likewise neither does someone like, say, Brent Sancho, with his track record of failures in this regard. This is not being petty or flippant, it is merely stating the facts.
“We have a plan which I have never erred from. Now with three months just gone, we have the necessary platform to deliver the cash sponsors we said we would and are already starting to do so.
“I hope this makes sense and please don’t hesitate to ask for any further clarity you may need in this regard.
If you cannot convince, goes the cliche, then confuse.
Based on a Newsday article, Miller not only charged the TTFA US$25,000 per month for bringing deals like Avec Sport to the twin island republic; but he also included a bill of US$30,410.95 on 25 November 2019—a day after the election.
Was Miller billing Wallace for work done during his electoral campaign, when he got letters of commitment from the would-be sponsors?
Had Wallace, as TTFA president, agreed to dip in the local football body’s coffers to pay Miller for campaign work done for the United TTFA?
Had Miller gotten the local football body to agree to pay him US$30,410.95 for getting a host of mostly obscure companies to promise to do business with the TTFA and then an additional US$25,000 to persuade the said sponsors to follow through—all with no guarantee that the would-be sponsors would ever sign on the dotted line?
Miller’s deal is in stark contrast to the standard sales contract, in which a salesman gets between 5 to 15 percent of the value of the secured deal when the sponsor actually delivers on his or her promise.
One other thing: Miller’s ‘explanation’ to Wallace and Ramdhan on the contract was sent via email on 8 March—eight days after the TTFA unveiled the Avec deal.
Arguably, the TTFA president and general secretary had signed off on a ‘multi-million dollar contract’ that they did not fully understand.
On Friday, Miller, who is now trying to get the normalisation committee to recognise his contract, told the Newsday that he was ‘genuinely disappointed’ in Wallace.
“I had faith in William before [the] election,” said Miller. “I thought he was a man that stood for honesty, integrity and accountability.”
If Fifa president Gianni Infantino’s implementation of a normalisation committee was a blow to the midsection for the fresh-faced TTFA president, exactly where Miller’s about-turn pained Wallace might be best left to the imagination.
When the Switzerland-based body pulled the sheets away from the TTFA, two Englishmen had Wallace in an uncompromising position. And, whether the board consented or not, local football is likely to pay the price for the unholy indiscretion.