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Flashback: Peter Miller Unplugged; how Essex salesman struck gold in T&T football

The following article on then chief executive officer of the Football Company of Trinidad and Tobago (FCoTT), Peter Miller, was written by Lasana Liburd and first published in the Trinidad Express on 10 March 2002:

(FCoTT, at the time, was the sponsorship and marketing arm of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation.)

Photo: The Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Senior players get ready for international action during the 2002 World Cup qualifying campaign.
From let are Russell Latapy, Zoran Vranes (coach), Brent Rahim, Dwight Yorke, Lyndon Andrews, Carlos Edwards and Wayne Lawson (trainer).
(Copyright AFP 2015/Juan Barreto)

It is a tumultuous time for the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) and, indeed, world governing body, Fifa, who have both been forced to go public with contrasting financial difficulties.

But only calm seems to reign at the office of Football Company of Trinidad and Tobago (FCoTT) chief executive officer Peter Miller.

It is Miller’s job to ensure that the accounts of local football are ticking over and—on the evidence of a February 28 interview—he is pleased as punch with his work so far.

“I can’t really want for anything more in life,” said the Englishman. “I’m very lucky. I get paid to do a job I like. I live in what to me is the best country in the world…

“I can’t honestly think of anything I’d rather have at the moment.”

Miller swivelled in his chair throughout the interview. Intermittent flashes of a bright smile, regular interjections of humour, and cool, calculated responses rolled easily from the 42-year-old who lists his profession as marketing manager.

Photo: Controversial English salesman Peter Miller.

The man from Essex seemed to be in his element.

“My goal is to establish FCoTT as the company it was set out to be,” said Miller. “To run the marketing and commercial affairs of football and to adequately fund the development of the game at all levels.”

The interview is littered with such grand quotes, which served as testimony to his seemingly immense self-belief.

Miller assured the Trinidad and Tobago public, for instance, that there was no financial crisis in local football and the national football team was in no danger of losing its Brazilian coach, Rene Simoes.

Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) president Oliver Camps publicly pleaded for sponsors to step up and pay a monthly sum of US$50,000 to keep Simoes and his three-man Brazilian entourage last December.

But Miller insisted that it was much ado about nothing and FCoTT was fulfilling its financial obligations. Simoes, he claimed, had not missed a payment.

Photo: Then Trinidad and Tobago head coach Rene Simoes (left) supervises a national team session at the Hasel Crawford Stadium, POS on 31 August 2001.
(Copyright AFP Photo/Juan Barret)

That was not only news to the Sunday Express, but to the national coach as well, who publicly stated that he would offer his services to the T&TFF free of charge until 1 June 2002, by which time they must source the necessary funds to pay his salary.

“No, that’s not true,” said Simoes yesterday, when asked if he was being paid. “They paid [for] January… They said they had the money to pay [me for] January, but after, I don’t know. If he says everything has been put in place, then I’m very happy.

“I gave him until the 1st of June… But if [Miller] says that everything is in place, then I’m glad to hear that.”

It is not the first contradictory report that emerged from the interview at FCoTT, or following background checks on its CEO. Miller’s tale is a remarkable one—particularly depending on who is telling it.

The Englishman could not immediately satisfy a request for his résumé, while his promise to have it faxed later from FCoTT did not materialise as it was not readily available.

Photo: Peter Miller was awarded a secret contract worth US$25,000 per month by former TTFA president William Wallace.
(via Stoke Sentinel)

But Miller mentioned no university background and admitted he held no marketing degree or qualification. By his own admission, he is a self-made man around football.

“I’ve always been involved in sport, or rather football, in one way or another,” he said. “The representation of players and so on. Always on the commercial side, never good enough as a player to make it, I’m afraid…

“I played football at a very good standard, but not professionally.”

In the birthplace of football, Miller worked—unknown to Fifa, as he was never registered—as a sports agent. It was, he said, his only source of income. He also claimed to have been attached to famous English Premier League club, Newcastle United.

“I was their authorised representative for the Caribbean,” he said.

Miller could give the names of just two players under his wing in England who would be known to the local public. One is Vibe CT105FM W Connection striker Earl Jean of St Lucia and the other, England-born ex-Soca Warriors international Ronnie Mauge—both of whom he met at English Division Two club Plymouth Argyle.

Photo: Wired868 XI attacker Earl Jean (left) is stopped in his tracks by opposing goalkeeper Curtis Granger during the 2015 Wired868 Football Festival.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/CA Images/Wired868)

It was on Jean’s recommendation that Miller went to St Lucia in 1998 to work as the marketing manager for the St Lucia Football Federation.

Miller claimed to have represented Jean for ‘five or six years’, although the striker said he did not stay at Plymouth for even two years before he returned to the Caribbean to join W Connection.

Jean’s recollection of Miller’s role in England also differed from what was obtained by the Sunday Express at the FCoTT office.

The talented St Lucian international recalled he was in the middle of his two-year contract at Plymouth Argyle when he was approached by a man who claimed to be the joint-owner and manager of one of his preferred restaurants.

The same gentleman, at the time, dabbled in the music industry, as far as the promotion and recording of CDs, and peddled Phat Farm clothing. His name was Peter Miller.

Photo: Controversial British salesman Peter Miller.

“Ronnie [Mauge] and I were both playing for Plymouth at the time,” said Jean. “And we went to a restaurant for lunch and he came up to us. That was more or less how it happened… He started giving us ideas and said he would like to market me.”

Miller’s wheeling paid immediate dividends as the smooth talker was able to get a printing firm in the area to sponsor a Mazda 323 for the striker. The pair became fast friends and the shoe was soon on the other foot, as the Englishman turned to the St Lucian for help.

“His business ran into problems,” said Jean. “So I advised him to go to St Lucia for a holiday and to clear his head… I said that I’d hook him up with Stuart [Charles-Fevrier] to see if there was anything he could do.”

Miller and his family—which included wife of 14 years, Penny, and sons Joseph (9) and Jake (7)—never looked back.

“We love it here,” said Miller. “In actual fact, this weekend (March 2) is the first time I’m going back to England in three years.”

Photo: Visitors wait for a flat bottom boat to take them to the Buccoo Reef.

Miller was scheduled to fly through England en route to a football finance conference in Madrid, Spain on official FCoTT business.

It seems a far cry from the story of a broken businessman who went to St Lucia just over three years ago, allegedly uncertain about his next move.

In St Lucia, Miller met Connection coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier who—impressed by his work—brought him to Trinidad some months later to join the newly-formed Connection team, who were preparing for the inaugural Professional Football League (PFL).

It was enough time, according to Miller, to create history.

“I received the biggest sponsorship in (their) sporting history with Heineken,” he said. “There were also various other sponsorships that I developed.”

Once more, Miller’s memory differed with that of the other parties involved.

Photo: W Connection head coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier points the way during Pro League action against Police FC on 8 April 2014.
Connection won 6-1.
(Copyright Wired868)

“[Miller] stayed for about three months in St Lucia,” said Fevrier. “He had some good ideas but nothing materialised. Maybe because he didn’t really stay around.

“One was for Heineken to give the football association enough beers, so that if you sell the beers you would get a million dollars over three to five years. The stock would be equivalent to that money. They agreed, but it didn’t happen.”

The Sunday Express was unable to confirm either story as St Lucia Football Association president Mark Louis was out of the island on a two-week vacation and did not respond to several e-mails.

Still, Fevrier offered a sympathetic ear to the Englishman when he asked him to tag along on his trip to Trinidad and W Connection.

“He felt he couldn’t do anything positive in St Lucia without me being there,” said Fevrier. “So he asked if I could speak to the owners of W Connection for him.”

Photo: W Connection playmaker Joevin Jones (centre) is congratulated by teammates during their decisive 4-1 Pro League win against Defence Force on 6 May 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

In St Lucia, Miller received an allowance and was to be paid on commission from what he brought to the Football Association. There was no accommodation, travel or vehicle at his disposal.

Things would improve greatly for Miller in Trinidad and Tobago. Not at W Connection, though.

The south-based club made an impressive start, clinching the FA Cup in their first season of competitive football, before winning the league title in 2000, which they successfully defended last year. Their remarkable record led to Charles being awarded the Medal of Merit (silver) by the St Lucian government.

Miller didn’t do nearly as well.

“I was sacked,” said Miller. “Ask [club owner David] John-Williams why. Personally, I thought I did a very good job.”

Williams declined to speak on the record, but an executive member of the club, who preferred to remain anonymous, had much to say.

Photo: W Connection owner David John-Williams (second from left), coach Stuart Charles-Fevrier (centre) and defender Joel Russell (far left) say a prayer of thanks after securing the 2013/14 Pro League trophy with a 4-1 win over Defence Force at the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva on 6 May 2014.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

The WCFC source claimed that the club was initially disinterested in Miller and the St Lucia Football Association was less than satisfied with his work, but they hired him to appease Fevrier. It proved to be a disaster. Within three months, Miller was fired, only to be reinstated to protect the new club from potentially-damaging publicity.

Eight months later, he was dismissed for good.

“There were real haphazard sloppy presentations and plenty talk, but he was never producing,” said the source.

The last straw came after Miller failed to submit a budget for a visit by the England FA CEO, despite repeated requests. Miller was terminated immediately after that workshop.

But the Englishman is made of sturdy stuff and it was not long before he was back on his feet and even better off than before.

Editor’s Note: Click HERE to read Part Two of Peter Miller Unplugged, as Miller joins CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh, manoeuvres his way into advertising agency CMB, and introduces local football to ex-England international Terry Fenwick, with whom he opens a sports company in Anguilla.

About Lasana Liburd

Lasana Liburd
Lasana Liburd is the managing director and chief editor at Wired868.com and a journalist with over 20 years experience at several Trinidad and Tobago and international publications including Play the Game, World Soccer, UK Guardian and the Trinidad Express.

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