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Dear editor: Fenwick pegged Wallace as a ‘sucker’—TTFA scandal unearths key internal flaws

“[…] Forget however one might feel about [Terry] Fenwick on a personal basis, the simple fact that he has allegedly encouraged [William] Wallace to bypass the TTFA Executive Board and sign off on ‘secret’ contracts demonstrates that Fenwick was not concerned with proper administrative process, protocols or practices, but rather his own selfish interests.

“Right or wrong he pegged Wallace as a sucker and proceeded to abuse the latter’s trust in him…”

In the following letter to the editor, attorney Nigel S Scott shares his disappointment in recent revelations regarding Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick and governance of the local football body:

Photo: Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior Team head coach Terry Fenwick gestures to the media after training at the Police Barracks in St James on 3 July 2020.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/CA-Images/Wired868)

The recent Wired868 series of articles on sidelined Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace’s truncated reign atop local football, represents investigative journalism of the highest order. That being said, the revelations in those articles cast a very negative and unflattering light on everyone involved.

From a personal perspective, I am most disappointed by Men’s Senior National Team head coach Terry Fenwick, first, and with Wallace himself coming a close second.

Forget however one might feel about Fenwick on a personal basis, the simple fact that he has allegedly encouraged Wallace to bypass the TTFA Executive Board and sign off on ‘secret’ contracts demonstrates that Fenwick was not concerned with proper administrative process, protocols or practices, but rather his own selfish interests.

Right or wrong he pegged Wallace as a sucker and proceeded to abuse the latter’s trust in him—the goal seemingly to get as much as he could from the TTFA, the best interest of the organisation be damned.

This apparently was not an opportunity to contribute to and improve local football, but rather an opportunity to contribute to his pockets and improve the circumstances of his family and himself.

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)

Wallace meanwhile, comes across as incredibly naive, bordering on dunce. And I say that with no malice on my part—the evidence speaks for itself. He has unilaterally committed the TTFA to an arguably onerous sponsorship contract with Avec Sport, a relatively obscure UK company, swayed in part by representations made to him that the company is owned by Nike.

A simple Google search reveals rather that the company, along with another sportswear supplier, Just Sports ProClub, are subsidiaries of the Just Sport Group.  Rather than Avec Sport, it is the Just Sport ProClub that operates in partnership with Nike.

What efforts did Wallace make to independently verify that information, or anything else told to him by Fenwick or Fenwick’s cohort, Peter Miller? For that matter, what makes Wallace think that he did not need board approval for contracts as he stated recently?

He has the authority to sign off on contracts, but signatory authority is not the same as decision-making authority. There will be one, usually two signatures on any financial instrument (as designated in a company’s Articles or Bylaws), but decisions are made only upon agreement by the board.

This is basic corporate governance, and to not adhere to that demonstrates either wilful ignorance or gross incompetence—either of which is disqualifying and incompatible with the position with which he was entrusted.

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

But all long talk aside, this episode is just the latest chapter in a sad and shameful saga of chronic mismanagement at the highest levels of local football. The TTFA’s Constitution requires that candidates to its executive board must have been active in a managerial or similar position in football within Trinidad and Tobago, for at least three of the five years preceding the election.

As recently as last week I have seen others bemoan this restriction and I dismissed the gripes then, as I always have. I did not have any issue with the limitation before, because I understood the rationale as insurance that office holders would have some vested interest in the proper running of the body—aka, some ‘skin’ in the game. But now I’m not so sure.

Why is it that we perennially keep getting this wrong? Why is it that we can’t seem to find honest, capable, competent and committed individuals to steer the ship?

The answer has to be because the selection/vetting process is flawed. That, and once in power those elected to office seemingly place more trust in relationships (right or wrong) and intuition, rather than in processes and best practices.

And ‘best practices’ as used here is not some filler language tossed in without forethought or meaning. This is no secret—there are thousands of models and examples that are already proven, and which are not just theoretical assertions untested by real world application.

Photo: TTFA president William Wallace (far right), general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan (second from right) and technical director Dion La Foucade (second from left) talk to Women’s U-20 Team manager Maylee Attin-Johnson during practice at the Ato Boldon Stadium training field in Couva on 7 February 2020.
(Copyright Daniel Prentice/Wired868)

We know what we should be doing, we just refuse to do it.

This sad episode just confirms to the objective onlooker how intrinsically broken football in Trinidad and Tobago has been, and continues to be.

We need a total tear down and rebuild, and until then we just wasting people’s time.

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Letters to the Editor
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4 comments

  1. It appears to be obvious that the TTFA Constitution needs to be revisited.

  2. Our football really needs the right people to govern, Mr Wallace has compromised his trust as the elected president, I guess it’s back to the drawing board. As the Fifa saga continues there is more to it than meets the eye. Corruption must be addressed and eliminated if our football has to move forward.

  3. Earl Best

    The selection process is indisputably flawed; were that not so, we should surely have had a few “honest, capable, competent and committed individuals” at the helm of our football in my lifetime. I can name none. Can you?

    Wallace, your story seems to suggest, was both “honest” and “committed.” On the basis of my personal knowledge of him, I concur. Moreover, his unblemished record at the level of the SSFL leads one to suggest that he is, at that level at least, both “capable and competent.”

    So maybe the flaw lies in our definition of what the job of head football honcho requires. Maybe the flaw lies in our insistence on seeking “honest, capable, competent AND committed individuals.” Maybe we should content ourselves with two or three adjectives instead of four. Maybe we need even more adjectives.

    Which is it? I am content to ask the question. I leave the answer to you.

    • Maybe that’s the problem, we’ve been too ready to compromise on our expectations of the people in charge of the TTFA (and our other institutions, by extension). In my humble opinion the qualities mentioned are minimum requirements . Maybe, as you suggest in the alternative, we need more adjectives.

      As for Wallace’s competence, the evidence would suggest to the casual observer that he possesses at least what is minimally required in that regard, based on his stewardship of the SSFL. However, the record of his actions in this specific situation suggests otherwise. Minimum competency would require an understanding of, and adherence to basic corporate governance, which as my Letter indicates, he did not.