ALTHOUGH THEIR slogan is Just Do It, Nike, a multinational billion-dollar urban apparel and sports company, said it has “no intention to pursue” any arrangement to sponsor or supply team product to the TT Football Association, undermining claims made by United TTFA, a group of stakeholders attempting to unseat David John-Williams as the head of local football.
John-Williams on Friday accused United TTFA of stating “gross inaccuracies” to the public about a potential deal with Nike. But the group says it never said the deal was finalised, and that it was always made clear it was still in the proposal stages. The TTFA will hold its elections on Sunday at the Home of Football in Couva.
At a press conference in Port of Spain on November 2, United TTFA said it was “closing in” on securing millions of dollars in sponsorship. It listed Nike as one of the potential sponsors on board if they win on Sunday.
Secondary Schools Football League (SSFL) president and TTFA presidential candidate William Wallace said, “We all know who Nike is. I cannot sit in this room today and say this if I did not want to face the courts. This has happened and Nike will be in this region.”
He said apart from providing uniforms for the teams, the company would be opening a retail store in TT.
In addition to Nike, the team’s list of international sponsors included: Currencies Direct, Grid Powr, Ola, Jellybean, Spectrum Brands, IMR, The Travel Company, Groupe Seb, Macosport and Tourism Ireland. Letters of commitment for Currencies Direct and IMR were presented.
At another press conference at the Harvard Sports Club, Port of Spain on Friday, Wallace assured all sponsors are still on board.
“Our sponsors are standing firm, they are standing with us. We submitted a technical plan that they are happy with and they know we have to rebuild. Up to this time, they are standing with us.”
But John-Williams is now claiming the group was dishonest and that Nike did not agree to partner with the TTFA.
The TTFA boss issued a press release on Friday evening, saying, “Over the past four years, we have worked tirelessly to repair damaged relationships and bring stability back to the TTFA.
“As president of the TTFA, I have been made aware of some damaging news that may have just set us back along our path to building key partnerships and changing the image of the TTFA.”
In an official document obtained by Newsday dated November 12, Nike’s senior counsel for North America sports marketing Zoe Braithwaite denied such agreements.
The letter, addressed to Concacaf, said, “We understand there have been media reports suggesting Nike would be interested to sponsor and supply team product to the TTFA. I write to confirm there is no such agreement in place with Nike and the TTFA and Nike has no intention to pursue one.”
Braithwaite said the TTFA “may have had conversations” with the company’s sales arm in the UK.
“I can confirm these did not develop beyond a conversation and have now ceased.”
Nike is one of Concacaf’s sponsors.
United TTFA was also recently accused of presenting a false document, allegedly issued by the Junior Sammy Group of Companies. Wallace later admitted the document (an undated letter with the group’s logo and purporting that the company supports Wallace and his team at the November 24 TTFA elections), was an error from someone seeking sponsorship for the group, in the event that they emerge victorious in the elections.
John-Williams’ press release said, “We must now ask ourselves, why would this group state such gross inaccuracies? It seems that this trait is embedded in their DNA.
“Not too long ago, at their campaign launch this same group presented a fraudulent letter from one of TTFA’s corporate sponsors. Damage control was needed then. “Fast forward to two days before the election, we find ourselves in a similar position, this time with one of sport’s biggest brands.”
United TTFA responded to these claims on Friday evening, calling it a “desperate effort to deny United TTFA a victory at the polls.”
It said, “From the outset at its launch at the Queen’s Park Oval on Saturday 2 November, we have always said the projected relationship with Nike is a proposal to be confirmed if United TTFA won the elections on Sunday. The agents of United TTFA have dealt solely with Nike UK. United TTFA has, in its possession, correspondence from Nike representatives referring to the proposed deal.”
It said United TTFA’s agents in the UK will make an official response today and asked the public to ignore the remarks made by John-Williams.
It also said Concacaf’s interference in the TTFA’s internal affairs and elections will not be tolerated.
“John-Williams is demonstrating the full extent of his vindictiveness and desperation by his willingness to deny a huge sponsorship opportunity to TTFA and TT football,“The enormous volume of bad publicity surrounding TTFA, including in yesterday’s Daily Mail, and third party interference by persons acting on behalf of John-Williams have resulted in Nike withdrawing their enthusiasm for any deal.”
An article on news website Daily Mail UK on Thursday titled ‘TT’s controversial FA are in a mess ahead of presidential election’, John-Williams was mentioned concerning the increasing debt of the TTFA.
The TTFA has lost two court cases this week. In a High Court ruling, on Tuesday, Justice Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell ordered the TTFA to pay former senior men’s national coach Stephen Hart $5 million for wrongful dismissal and unpaid salaries and bonuses. And on Wednesday, former TT youth football team coach, men’s team assistant and TTFA technical director Anton Corneal was awarded $3,488,375, in an oral ruling by High Court judge Vasheist Kokaram.
In addition to John-Williams and Wallace, Terminix La Horquetta Rangers owner Richard Ferguson will also be vying for TTFA president.