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Wallace: “The facts are as follows…” TTFA boss ‘clears air’ on Fenwick, Miller and Ramdhan

“[…] The only workable decision open to us at that time was the one I took and that is a decision to sign an agreement with [Peter] Miller. I took this decision as leader of the team and decided not to burden anyone else with it.
“Was there an inherent risk? Yes, but there are times when you have little choice…”

The following press statement was issued today by Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace with regards to his tenure and, in particular, deals with head coach Terry Fenwick, general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan and marketing director Peter Miller:

Photo: TTFA president William Wallace poses during a staff photoshoot on 9 January 2020.
(via Allan V Crane/TTFA Media/CA-images)

The elegant twin towers that decorate the POS horizon are both the same height. If one is looking at them from the west one looks taller than the other; to the observer from the east one also looks taller than the other, except that if both persons compare notes there will be an argument as to which tower is taller.

It is a matter of perspective.

The issue arises when perspectives are being peddled as facts and more so when there is an attempt to use these ‘FACTS’ to reshape an individual’s character.

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake.

(Terry Fenwick)

When a story broke on Sportsmax that the salary signed off on Terry Fenwick’s contract is not what we agreed on. My initial thoughts were that Terry unilaterally changed the terms of his contract.

In an attempt to get clarity on the situation, an easy solution was put forward; throw Terry under the bus. Mistakes can be made, but to throw someone under the bus is deliberate and does not come naturally to me.

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick is introduced to the media at the National Cycling Centre, Couva on 6 January 2020.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/TTFA Media)

Further discussions revealed, for the first time to me at least, the details of the negotiations in finalising the contract. My understanding then and still is that the terms in the contract that came under scrutiny were indeed part of the final settlement but the MISTAKE was that they should not have been reflected in the final TTFA contract.

I admitted then that a mistake was made and that it would be corrected.

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake.

Even with this explanation the matter refused to die and the narrative changed to one that said, the president unilaterally changed the terms of the contract and this narrative was given more life when a member of my own team endorsed it.

The facts are as follows:

I played absolutely no role in the negotiation of Fenwick’s contract. This negotiation was left entirely in the hands of the Technical Committee;

Two emails were sent to me by the GS on Tuesday December 17th, while I was in Qatar. The Subject: Adjusted terms and conditions.

Photo: TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan (left) makes a presentation to Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick during his unveiling at the National Cycling Centre, Couva on 6 January 2020.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA-Images/TTFA Media)

In one email the GS indicated that there was agreement on the final terms of the contract. The attachment in the email indicated a salary of USD 20,000.

The second email forwarded was from Peter Miller to Keith Look Loy. Details of the second email are as follows:

Dear Keith,

After much discussions a revised position has been arrived at which is attached for your information prior to our discussions on Thursday. Please feel free to give feedback in order to arrive at a firm position given the urgency of the matter.

Kind regards.

The attachment in this email indicated a salary of USD 20,000.

I assumed that the final terms would have been sent by the negotiating team to the attorney to prepare the contract. When the contract came back to me and was handed over by my general secretary for signing there were no red flags.

Photo: (From left to right) Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick, Caribbean Chemicals chairman Joe Pires and TTFA president William Wallace.
(Courtesy TTFA Media)

I signed the contract believing that the terms therein were agreed on with my negotiating team.

Questions:

Were the terms agreed on at the end of the negotiations and sent to the attorney for the preparation of the contract altered?

If the answer is yes then the action could not be ascribed to me, since I played absolutely no part in the process but just signed off on the product.

If the answer is no: Is it that clear directions were not given to the attorney as to what should have been put into the contract?

How could it then be concluded and supported by persons who are aware of the facts that the president changed the terms of Terry Fenwick’s contract?

(General secretary)

I move to the other issue; and that is the Ramesh Ramdhan’s contract. As one senior counsel puts it: “From reviewing the TTFA constitution, it seems as though the general secretary is the sole responsibility of the president. The discussion with the Board is merely a courtesy.”

Photo: TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan (centre) accompanies president William Wallace (far right), office staff Sharon O’Brien (far left) and technical director Dion La Foucade (second from left) during a Women’s National U-20 Team practice session at the Ato Boldon Stadium training field in Couva on 7 February 2020.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

Even without this interpretation, I acted based on my own interpretation of the constitution, along with common sense and logic. My condemnation in this matter was based merely on the persons who were speaking the loudest and fuelled by their own agenda.

Nowhere in the constitution speaks to the board drawing up the terms and conditions of the general secretary. The board’s role is to appoint or dismiss the GS on the proposal of the president.

Ramdhan was proposed to the board and the board agreed to his appointment. A suggestion was made by a board member that the length of the contract be one year—and I say a suggestion because the board is not empowered to draw up the terms of the GS’ contract.

If this power is ascribed to the board it means that all the other terms of the contract should have been drawn up by the board and not just the length of the contract.

Just to draw on a bit of logic, if in my discussions with Mr Ramdhan, he refused a one-year contract, is it that I had to search until I find someone who agreed with the proposed one year.

Photo: TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan poses in a staff photo shoot on 9 January 2020.
(via Allan V Crane/TTFA Media/CA-images)

Even with that said, the reason for giving the general secretary a two-year contract was not shrouded in any conspiracy and is in fact more than reasonable. Factors such as the two-year contracts agreed on for the National Senior Team staff; the role the GS had to play in the roll out of the activities of the FA; and average term given to previous secretaries, were all taken into consideration.

As one of the framers of the constitution said in a recent article, once the decision was made and taken back to the board, the board had to accept. This position is consistent with the senior counsel who indicated it’s a matter of courtesy.

(Editor’s Note: Osmond Downer, TTFRA vice-president and one of the framers of the constitution, suggested that Wallace should have taken his desire to give Ramesh Ramdhan a two-year contract back to the board. Downer did not say that the board had to accept Wallace’s wish to give general secretary a two year contract.)

Unfortunately, the courtesy to the board was curtailed by the Covid-19 shut down. Just to note the GS has never been paid.

Did the president’s preparation of the general secretary’s contract—based on the interpretation of the constitution—[mean he] unilaterally changed the terms of the general secretary’s contract?

Photo: (From left) TTFA vice-president Susan Joseph-Warrick, president William Wallace, general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan and press manager Shaun Fuentes.
(via TTFA Media)

Unfortunately, the two acts above were responsible for my team making a statement that they have lost confidence in me. Even more unfortunate, this position was made public before I was given the chance to be heard. The team has since met and recommitted to moving forward.

(Peter Miller)

As part of the United TTFA, I was initially asked to consider leading the group but refused to commit. The major reason given for my noncommittal was the financial state of the TTFA. I reasoned that the only way that I am committing is if there is a plan to deal with the debt.

During this period, my deceased friend, Raymond Tim Kee shared with me a very impressive commercial package designed for the TTFA, that was negotiated on his behalf, and which would be implemented if he was elected president.

In that package was a plan to deal with the historic debt of the FA, and of course that peaked my interest. I was also introduced to the name, Peter Miller.

Based on Mr Tim Kee’s failing health, he eventually asked me to go forward with the plan. The package was presented to the other United TTFA members and they were all impressed.

Photo: TTFA’s secret ‘marketing director’ Peter Miller.
(via Stoke Sentinel)

I gave my word to Peter Miller that if I was elected president, I will honour the agreement that he had with Tim Kee. The truth is Peter Miller’s package/presentation was responsible for us winning the elections—our campaign was based on its content and we were heavily dependent on its successful rolling out after 24 November.

Post 24 November, Peter Miller indicated that he needed an agreement before he move forward to firm up the pre-election letters of intent. This was not an unreasonable request—however, it presented a dilemma for me to find a way to transition the un-official arrangement with the United TTFA to the TTFA.

Settling this quickly was made even more urgent, since by then, we realised that the situation that we met in the FA was even more dire than we expected and that we had to depend on Miller to deliver.

The GS and I tried to find a way to navigate the situation, but the options were few. The only workable decision open to us at that time was the one I took and that is a decision to sign an agreement with Miller.

I took this decision as leader of the team and decided not to burden anyone else with it.

Was there an inherent risk? Yes, but there are times when you have little choice.

Photo: Controversial British salesman Peter Miller.

(Agreement)

Miller’s position was that no changes be made to the original agreement with Raymond Tim Kee. However my suggestion to Miller was that the flat rates quoted as a monthly salary would have to be reflected as a percentage of what was delivered and that there were no issues if, instead of lumpsum payments, the disbursement was done monthly.

It did not matter to me what the percentage was because the numbers were already agreed on with Raymond and I gave my word before the elections that I will honour the agreement. In addition, my own philosophy is that we had nothing so whatever came in would be more than we had.

Via email, Miller asked if any part of Fifa’s funding could be used for marketing. The GS responded via mail that Fifa Forward funding cannot be used for [that] in any way. (emails available)

(The Plan)

  • To sign a letter of intent since any binding contract of this nature has to be approved by the board. The intent, of course, was to make sure that Miller remained onboard and what we campaigned and depended on could still be delivered.
  • Payment to Miller would come from what he brings to the table so there is no direct risk to the TTFA
  • We get the Board to agree in principle that we have to outsource marketing. The Board did agree.
  • The roll out of the sponsorship was carded for June. Once the successful roll out commenced, a recommendation would have been taken to the board to officially contract Miller as the marketing person.
Photo: TTFA president William Wallace poses during at a photoshoot on 9 January 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/TTFA Media/CA-images)

(Conclusion)

  • Since entering office, no action taken by me brought any personal benefits to me, my intentions were that TTFA would always be the beneficiary.
  • A major part of our relationship with Miller was the proposed project to finally eliminate the historic debt of the FA. Everyone would agree that this has to be addressed.
  • A headline in Wired868 that said I lied, was unfortunate. When asked if Peter Miller had a contract with the TTFA, in an attempt to manage an ongoing situation, I answered no. Well, technically the answer was correct, but I do not want to hide behind any technicality and in retrospect the answer could have been… I would respond to the question at a later date.

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake.

Of major importance is that even though these matters may have originated in-house, there is a very important reason why they are playing out like this in the public domain. In the coming weeks, the picture would be made much clearer.

Thank you.

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2 comments

  1. If the election of the United TTFA was contingent on side deals that involved potential corruption and questionable individuals – Then this is no mistake but a well thought out plan.

    If the contract changes for Mr. Fenwick was reviewed and discus by any member of your executive and technical team, and then officially signed by you then it’s not a mistake but a well thought out plan.

    If your decision to changes the original agreement of the GS contract and informed the board of the changes well over 30 days after the official contract was signed. Then this is not a mistake but a well thought out plan.

    Leadership is making good difficult decisions when no one else has the gut to make them. The speed in making these questionable decisions that are full with suppose mistakes; and the suggestion you are allow a free pass because of executive (President) privilege frankly is not good enough!

    You were elected to make good decisions regarding our football business and to make TTFA football better.

    Instead your first decision of selecting people that you can trust in helping you with these important decisions is wanting.

    Cash transactions mistakes for a bank teller is unacceptable and generally results in termination of employment.

    When you move up the ladder and you have executives making these huge mistakes.

    And their excuse are:

    “ Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistakes”

    Sorry not at this level!

    Mistakes comes with a cost….What should it cost you?

    • Earl Best

      You ask the question rhetorically and, like you, many of us think we already know the answer. But we don’t all agree!

      I suggest that the substantive issue remains this: is it right for FIFA–or anybody but the duly constituted membership of the TTFA–to answer that question and UNILATERALLY act on the basis of their answer?

      I urge you to wait for the Court’s answer before you respond. It may help.