The Trinidad and Tobago Super League’s 14 active member clubs were meant to choose their new president today from either of two candidates: Guaya United manager Jameson Rigues and UTT FC head coach Clayton Morris.
Instead, by all accounts, chaos reigned in an ill-tempered meeting before Rigues, who is also the interim TTSL president, ended the meeting with a sudden stab of his keyboard at roughly 1.52pm. The next agenda item was the election of a president.
“It was the worse meeting I have ever been to,” said TTSL second vice-president Eddison Dean. “I don’t know what to say. The meeting was terrible.”
Dean and fellow board member Terry Joseph said they will attempt to reconvene the AGM next Sunday, based on article 27 of the TTSL’s bylaws, which states:
‘The chairman of any meeting may, with the consent of the meeting, adjourn the same from time to time to a fixed time and place and no notice of such adjournment need be given to the members unless the meeting is adjourned by one or more adjournments for an aggregate of thirty days or more in which case notice of the adjourned meeting shall be given as for an original meeting…’
Since Rigues did not call a vote to demonstrate that he had the ‘consent of the meeting’ to end it, Dean insists it was illegally terminated. The board will now move to restart the AGM at the earliest convenient time.
In preparation for the reconvened meeting, Dean, the president of the Club Sando Football Club, has already invited all board members—including Rigues—to a meeting on Tuesday. It is unlikely that the board would find consensus.
Relations have become so frayed that Rigues left the TTSL Board Whats App group almost two weeks ago, and he appears as adamant to stop the election as his colleagues are to hold it.
One board member suggested that Morris, the Strike Squad captain and Trinidad and Tobago Hall of Fame defender, has the support of as many as 10 of the 14 active TTSL clubs. Rigues, though, has pushed for the re-entry of seven suspended clubs before an election is conducted.
If Rigues is successful and all seven returning teams support him, he is likely to edge ahead of Morris in the polls. But, at present, the TTSL electoral committee, chaired by Boris Punch, has already despatched an electors list and there seems to be no way to have the teams—who have not participated in Super League business for two years—vote.
Last week, Rigues argued that an online election does not allow for secret voting and is therefore a breach of the bylaws. On Friday, he produced an email from Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad which mirrored his concerns.
By then, however, TTSL general secretary Peter Thomas had already tested a secret ballot option on Zoom on three occasions. And Hadad’s claim that Fifa and Concacaf did not want an online election seemed at odds with the fact that the Canada Soccer Association elected a president that way last week.
When Rigues failed to win over members with his argument or Hadad’s letter, he announced—just after midnight on Saturday—that he would hold his own AGM today.
“I notice the attempt of the Board to exempt bonafide members, who are shareholders of the TTSL, from the 2020 AGM,” stated Rigues, “via the virtual Zoom Meeting link sent out earlier by the League secretary, Peter Thomas. Additionally, the League secretary has refused to make me the host of the meeting in my capacity as chairperson of the meeting.
“The AGM will not be convened if the chairman cannot have control of the meeting. I don’t know of any meeting where the Chair does not have control (another unconstitutional move). These actions have forced me to create a new meeting link that will accommodate all members and delegates to the 2020 AGM of the TTSL.
“[…] Join me for the convening of the 2020 TTSL AGM via the Zoom Meeting link posted below.”
Rigues’ request to members apparently went unheeded.
So, this morning, he requested entry into the board’s 10am AGM. The TTSL Board allowed Rigues to chair the meeting but not to host it. The interim president insisted he must do both.
The disagreement provoked the first of several lengthy delays.
Rigues did not respond to Wired868’s request for comment. However, Petit Valley Diego Martin United president Derek Edwards, a staunch ally of the Guaya official, said there was insufficient respect shown to the interim president.
“They didn’t want to let Rigues control the meeting and that was a blatant disrespect for his position,” Edwards told Wired868. “You don’t have to like Rigues, but he is the president. When [Donald] Trump is the president, no matter how he carries on you have to respect that he is the president.”
Eventually, the members agreed that Rigues should co-host the meeting with Thomas along with the former man’s duties as chairman.
Dean and Joseph claimed that Rigues, as meeting chairman, ignored some members completely while giving others multiple opportunities to contribute.
Occasionally, members had technical issues and were bumped off the meeting and needed to be allowed re-entry. Edwards never got on via his email link and relied on a phone call from Rigues who put the the discussion on speaker so he could listen in.
The PVDMU official said the glitches today were an excellent reason why an election should not happen online.
“It is the wrong platform for an election,” said Edwards. “Supposed somebody fall out at a crucial time and they can’t get back in? A meeting of that magnitude should be held in person.
“Once there is a perceived bias and people could be getting locked out and thing, we have to rule out that.”
Another issue arose when Rigues apparently tried to rearrange the schedule of the agenda. The last three agenda items were, in order: election of a president, selection of the TTSL’s representative to the TTFA Board, the way forward for suspended clubs.
After Cunupia FC coach Michael De Four allegedly asked about the suspended clubs during a discussion on the TTSL’s finances, Rigues engaged him.
“We were trying to complete a discussion on the budget and he just started talking about the suspended clubs,” said Joseph. “When we tried to object, he said a gentleman asked him a question and he was replying. All he had to say [to De Four] was ‘your question is duly noted but let us get to it when it comes up on the agenda’.
“Instead that went on for about half hour. Anyone who tried to interrupt, he said that he is on his feet and we cannot speak until he is finished.”
“He wasn’t allowing anyone to talk,” said Dean.
“It was terrible,” said Joseph. “As bad as [ex-TTFA president David] John-Williams was, he wasn’t as bad as this at all.”
Edwards countered that the clubs were stifling an important point and saw no reason why the president could not arbitrarily rearrange the agenda.
“They were constantly stopping the meeting and saying he is not getting on with the agenda,” said Edwards. “The president said he was trying to answer a question on suspended clubs. The issue of the suspended clubs is a front burner issue and they wanted to bring it forward on the agenda.
“What is wrong with that?”
Article 31.3 of the TTSL Bylaws states that: ‘the agenda of an annual general meeting may be altered, provided two thirds (2/3) of the delegates present […] and eligible to vote agree to such a motion.’
Rigues, according to members present, did not call a vote to demonstrate he had the necessary support to alter the schedule of the agenda.
FC Santa Rosa official Jason Laban responded by moving a motion which asked for Thomas to take full control of the meeting while members voted for a new chair, so it could go on uninterrupted. Rigues was not having it.
“I do not recognise that motion!” Rigues supposedly shot back.
After some angry exchanges, Thomas muted the TTSL president so that members could vote.
“It was blatant disrespect for the office of the president,” said Edwards. “[…] You can’t just cut him off or mute him. I can’t condone that.”
Three clubs voted along with Santa Rosa in support of Laban’s motion, seven abstained, and one voted against, while the other two clubs did not vote at all.
At that point, Thomas declared that Santa Rosa’s motion failed and turned power over to Rigues.
“The secretary made a mistake,” said Dean. “He probably got confused with the abstentions and counted those as votes against the motion too.”
Rigues seized his opportunity straight away.
“He said ‘this meeting is disorderly; I hereby suspend the meeting’,” said Dean. “In less than a second, the [Zoom] screen was gone.”
The bemused Punch, who headed a two-member electoral committee that included Central FA general secretary Clynt Taylor, described today’s proceedings as ‘bizarre’.
“We were there since 10 o’ clock waiting to be called on and it never happened,” said Punch. “I sat down waiting and hoping we would get through it today, but at the end of the day the president decided to adjourn the meeting and that was it.”
Dean insisted that would not be the end of it, though. The next agenda item is the election, as such as he believes Rigues’ duty as meeting chairman was at an end anyway.
“The meeting was ended on the election of the president, so he can’t control what happens from here on,” said Dean. “Next Sunday, the secretary and Boris Punch will start the meeting and hold the election, and whoever wins will take control of the chair for the rest of the AGM.”
So the TTSL clubs should reconvene next Sunday to choose between Rigues and Morris. Unless the interim president comes up with another reason why the election should not go ahead.
At stake is the helm of the the second largest member of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), which boasts of eight voting delegates from the TTFA’s total of 46.
Editor’s Note: TTSL interim president Jameson Rigues did not respond to requests for comment from Wired868. However, in a release to other media houses, he stated:
‘I have requested a report of the AGM based on the recording of the virtual meeting and despite the disruptive actions today, I wish to confirm my intention to have the proper conduct of the business of the T&T Super League to ensure the rights of the entire membership are respected and guaranteed in keeping with the TTSL Constitution and Bye-Laws, all within the TTFA Family.’
The TTSL Board, however, accused Rigues of taking the TTSL ‘on a sad and destructive path that undermines football democracy and the rule of law’.