DAVID John-Williams’ tenure as president of the TT Football Association (TTFA) came to an end on November 24, when he was defeated by 26 votes to 20, by William Wallace, in the executive elections at the Home of Football, Balmain, Couva.
It is ironic that John-Williams’ reign as head of the local governing body ended at the building which he opened, with great fanfare, on November 18 – with the Prime Minister, Minister of Sport and Youth Affairs Shamfa Cudjoe, FIFA president Gianni Infantino and Concacaf president Victor Montagliani as the main dignitaries.
A day after the elections, the TTFA announced in a media release that the much-heralded 72-room Home of Football had been closed, since it was uninsured and uncertified by the Fire Service.
With the Home of Football of no use for the time being, one wonders about John-Williams’ legacy during his time as TTFA president, after he replaced Raymond Tim Kee on November 29, 2015.
Less than a year into his tenure, the 57-year-old John-Williams made it clear he was looking for higher heights as he decided to contest the post of president of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU). However, he was beaten 18-12 (with one abstention) by the incumbent Gordon Derrick of Antigua/Barbuda.
John-Williams began his time as TTFA president with three deputies (vice-presidents) – Ewing Davis, Allan Warner and Joanne Salazar.
Warner resigned in mid-2016, after perceived differences with John-Williams, and Salazar made her exit in September 2018 for “personal reasons.”
The Salazar issue was made worse when general secretary Justin Latapy-George claimed he was ordered to keep her departure a secret. Latapy-George’s contract with the TTFA was not renewed, and he made way for Camara David in March 2019.
John-Williams, the owner of local football club W Connection, was regularly criticised by board member Keith Look Loy over his style of leadership, decision-making and combative personality, and Look Loy had to resort to taking legal action to get documents pertaining to the construction of the Home of Football.
A week before the TTFA elections, the local governing body was ordered to pay ex-national men’s team coach Stephen Hart $5 million for wrongful dismissal, unpaid salaries and bonuses, by a judge in the Port of Spain High Court.
Hart was fired on November 29, 2016, after TT struggled in the initial stages of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Concacaf Zone Final Round Qualifiers.
Weeks before the ruling, John-Williams insisted in a media interview that Hart was not sacked, but there was a mutual parting of ways.
Hart, the former Canada coach, was replaced by Belgian Tom Saintfiet, who was publicly told by John-Williams that he could suffer the same fate if TT failed to advance to the 2017 Concacaf Gold Cup.
TT were unable to progress to the Gold Cup. Saintfiet left before he was pushed, and ex-national defender Dennis Lawrence came on board in January 2017. At the time of writing, Lawrence is still the TT coach, despite a record of only six victories from 36 matches.
The TTFA shifted its office from the Hasely Crawford Stadium in Mucurapo to the Ato Boldon Stadium in Couva, but there were rumours during the past year about late payments, and even non-payment of salaries to staff.
John-Williams boasted during last month’s election campaign that he reduced the debt he inherited as TTFA boss from $30 million to $18 million, but that was countered by his replacement, Wallace who on Wednesday issued a media release which mentioned its current debts which stand at a minimum of $50 million.
John-Williams insisted that proposed T League (a merger of the Pro League and Super League), was doomed to fail since, according to him, both parties could not come to an agreement in time.
However, in November, the TTFA organised a League of Champions tournament, featuring ten teams, including a national youth team, that only played one round of matches before it was put on hold by the Wallace administration.
The public became disenchanted with events off and on the field, and their displeasure was evident at the Ato Boldon Stadium on November 10 when barely 500 fans showed up to see TT’s record 15-0 win over Anguilla – a result which described by John-Williams as “phenomenal.”
The game was originally scheduled for November 11 but was shifted due to FIFA regulations.
Ironically, there were no consultation with the Pro League nor the Super League, as there were matches, simultaneously,in the First Citizens Cup and the Terminix Super League.