FOR the second time, the TT Football Association’s (TTFA) bank accounts have been frozen after former technical director Kendal Walkes secured a garnishee order against the association on Friday. This type of order legally allows part of a person’s or company’s income to be used to pay off debts.
Walkes was fired in 2015 under the leadership of former TTFA president David John-Williams, and sued the association for breach of contract.
And in a ruling delivered at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain, on September 27, 2019, Justice Joan Charles ordered the TTFA to pay him US$783,000, saying a valid contract existed between the two parties.
The TTFA’s accounts were first frozen in March, 2019 as ordered by The High Court. This occurred after the association failed to honour a court order in December, 2018 in which they were made to pay the national futsal team approximately $500,000 with interest, as well as legal fees. The ruling followed a two-year lawsuit stemming from unpaid match fees, salaries and expenses.
Speaking with Newsday, on Wednesday morning, TTFA president William Wallace said he was surprised at Walkes’ decision and that no official communication was made to inform the association about it.
“When we took a look at the accounts online, we realised something was wrong. It was not communicated to us.
“We tried to call the bank to find out what was the problem and the bank referred us to their lawyer. They were not giving us information, they asked our lawyers to contact their lawyers.”
But he added that he is not upset with Walkes since he is simply trying to get what is rightfully his.
“I was surprised, of course, yes I was. But I have nothing against him.
“If someone has to take action to get what they were awarded by the court and they think this is the action that is necessary, I can’t be against him for that.”
Last November nearing the TTFA’s elections, Wallace and his slate United TTFA said if they won, they would do financial reconstruction. In a Newsday article published on November 20, 2019 with the headline ‘Ferguson, Wallace on TTFA court ruling: If we win, we will pay,’ Wallace was quoted as saying, “We will definitely have to sit with Kendall and Stephen (Hart) and work out a payment plan. Of course, we accept that we owe the money, we accept that we have to pay it, and we have to sit with both parties and work out a payment plan.”
Wallace told Newsday an e-mail was sent to Walkes explaining the association’s (financial) position but he received no feedback.
But he said Walkes’ lawyer, Melissa Roberts-John, told him no e-mail was received by her client even though it was through that address the two had been communicating before. “I did indicate that we have a plan that would kick in later in the year that we would use to address all the people that we owe.”
He said the association is now “reaping the results” of the previous administration.
He described the TTFA’s current debt as “staggering,” since Walkes’ is not the only former employee who sought judgement against it.
In November 2019, the association was ordered to pay former youth football team coach, men’s team assistant and technical director Anton Corneal $3,488,375. Also in November, it was ordered to pay former senior men’s coach Stephen Hart $5 million for wrongful dismissal and unpaid salaries and bonuses. Wallace said similar e-mails were sent to all of them and that feedback from the others had been positive and accommodative.
TTFA’s technical committee chairman Keith Look Loy also said the association was shocked at the decision as “amicable communication” occurred between both parties. “I know for a fact that the president had engaged in discussion with him. “These are debt that we inherited. This particular one has been outstanding four years and you just come now and want us to pay you off in three months.”
He believes the association is being “doubly victimised.”
“We are the victims of the mismanagement of David John-Williams and now were the victims of actions of people based on that mismanagement.”
Asked how he plans to address the issues with Walkes’ moving forward, Wallace said he has spoken to Roberts-John and is awaiting feedback. “I sent out an e-mail this morning to his lawyer and asked if there’s any position yet, so at least we can have a position where we can come to the table and get some part of the funding to him, and that we can get the order listed and then we plan the way forward from there.”
FIFA has also paused its funding to the association because of these ongoing financial issues. Wallace said the association was told a commission of FIFA and Concacaf representatives would meet with the FA to discuss finances.