At around noon today, the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), via trustee Maria Daniel, agreed settlements with creditors on debts stretching back more than two decades.
Daniel, hired by Fifa-appointed normalisation committee chairman Robert Hadad, had a fund of roughly TT$16m to address claims, which totalled TT$84.5m. It meant a formal offer to creditors for 32.4% of all claims over TT$200,000, pending validation of their supporting documentation.
Today, though, creditors received a pleasant surprise. Daniel virtually doubled the initial offer to 60% of all claims—although confirmation is still needed—with the final settlement varying between 60% and 61%, depending on which creditor you asked.
It was sufficient to satisfy the creditors of the local football body, who voted to accept the terms. No final vote count was given but one source said it appeared unanimous.
“It has been a long journey but I am glad to reach the end of the tunnel,” said attorney Melissa Roberts-John. “And there is light there.”
Roberts-John represented former Trinidad and Tobago Men’s National Futsal Team manager Roger Brereton and ex-technical director Kendall Walkes today.
Brereton was guaranteed 95% of his claim, which fell under the TT$200,000 mark. However, the TTFA owed Walkes TT$4.8m. Daniel’s offer last week meant he would receive TT$1.42m, which meant a loss of TT$3.38m.
Roberts-John said she went to the meeting at the TTFA’s Home of Football with an instruction to vote ‘no’ to any offer less than 40% or TT$1.9m. When Daniel offered 60%, which for Walkes equated to TT$2.8m, the trustee was pushing against an open door.
“Initially, they said they would pay 22.4%, earlier this year, and then that went up to 32.4% last week,” said Roberts-John. “My instruction was not to accept less than 40%, while I was hoping to get as much as 45%. So this passed my expectations—I am not going to lie about that.”
So where did the extra money come from?
According to sources, Daniel today explained that, out of an initial 258 claims from ‘unsecured creditors’, only 93 persons submitted proof of claims. And just 88 of those submissions were deemed to be sufficiently robust by the accountants, with the money left on the table instead shared among the verified creditors.
Ex-Fifa vice-president Jack Warner and former TTFA general secretary Sheldon Phillips were the TTFA’s two largest wanna-be creditors.
Warner said he was owed TT$22.7m. However, according to a local football insider, his declaration was premised almost entirely on a letter of indebtedness from late former TTFA president Raymond Tim Kee.
It was not going to be enough to secure a pay-off for the now 79-year-old former football executive, who is currently battling extradition to the United States where he is wanted to answer an array of charges based on financial crimes. Daniel confirmed that Warner did not submit documentation for his claim to be validated.
Much of Phillips’ claim of $12.1m also relied on what was described as a ‘messy’ contract, signed by Tim Kee. His, too, was disregarded.
Wired868 also understands that Englishmen Terry Fenwick and Peter Miller also hit a wall. In their cases, contracts signed by former football president William Wallace suggested debts of TT$4.5m and TT$3.96m respectively.
However, according to a source, there was a trail of emails from Fenwick, the former national coach, and Miller, a former marketing manager, that contradicted those contracts.
The content of the emails put enough doubt in Daniel’s mind to persuade her and her team that neither claimant deserved to be paid. In the end, Miller is believed to have been paid only for actual work done.
Their disappointment meant relatively good news for the validated creditors although there were varying degrees of satisfaction.
“He wasn’t happy at all—I had to convince him to accept it,” said the representative of one former national coach, who said yes to today’s offer. “Nobody would be happy to lose 40 percent of the money you worked for. But we had to make a business decision and not an emotional decision.”
Attorney Keith Scotland, who represented former Soca Warriors head coach Stephen Hart, said he has not yet reached his client. However, the attorney is ‘relatively pleased’ with today’s outcome.
“It is not the entirety of the judgement that we had to go to court for, but 61 cents on the dollar would bring closure to this long outstanding matter,” Scotland told Wired868. “This matter has been going on since 2016 when we say our client was wrongfully dismissed or unfairly terminated. So seven years now, that is almost two World Cups!
“I am very happy for Stephen and we will take 61 cents on the dollar.”
Scotland and Roberts-John both said they hope the TTFA emerges stronger from today’s settlement. In roughly four months, the local football body should be free of debt.
“This period has been very stressful for Stephen,” said Scotland. “And this is the saddest part of it all, a son of the soil, due to no fault of his own, cannot make a living here and had to go to Canada—where they welcomed him with open arms. I am still saddened at that.
“We are draining our Trinidad and Tobago talent while the other Caribbean countries are getting ahead. The Trinidad and Tobago bodies don’t seem to be working to get us ahead and this has to change.”
“I believe what was offered by Ms Daniel is a win-win in light of the present financial situation of the TTFA,”she said. “[…] It was 2016 when I commenced this matter with Mr Walkes and we are now in 2022. We started off dealing with [David] John-Williams, then William Wallace, then Robert Hadad, and then the trustee.
“In the end, we did not get everything we wanted but it is more than we expected going into the meeting. At least we are seeing some light.”
Thus far, the TTFA has not revealed the source of its ‘approved financial arrangement’ of US$3m (TT$20.1m) to settle its debts. Wired868 understands that the money is to be repaid by the local football body, without interest, over the next decade.
Sometime before March 2023, the Fifa-appointed normalisation committee will announce elections for the post of TTFA president. And, for the first time in this millennium, the new executive elected to run the game will be in charge of a relatively debt-free organisation.
Despite the generally poor results on the field of play under Hadad, in the boardroom today, the TTFA has made an important step forward—with trustee Daniel leading the way.
Editor’s Note: Click HERE for an overview of creditors meeting with quotes from Maria Daniel, Kendall Walkes and Osmond Downer.
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