The approval of three contracts by former TT Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace has been deemed an act of betrayal by fellow United TTFA member Keith Look Loy.
These actions have been also frowned upon by TTFA’s membership and may be addressed via a virtual conference meeting on Saturday, a request made by United TTFA.
In a statement issued by United TTFA members, on Tuesday, they condemned Wallace’s behaviour regarding contract discrepancies surrounding a uniform deal with English apparel supplier Avec Sport, national coach Terry Fenwick’s salary and most recently (Monday), an extension of Ramesh Ramdhan’s contract as TTFA general secretary to two years, despite the board approving a one-year appointment.
These members are Look Loy, Clynt Taylor, Susan Joseph-Warrick, Joseph Sam Phillip and Anthony Harford.
“This pattern of behaviour is unacceptable. It is unilateral. It exceeds the constitutional limits to the president's authority. It is deceptive and deeply disappointing. And it replicates the performance of former president David John-Williams,” the statement read.
During Wallace and United TTFA’s campaign leading up to the December 2019 TTFA general election, the promise of democracy, transparency and accountability was their frontline. The victory against then president David John-Williams was also hailed as a breath of fresh air for local football.
Ironically, Wallace and his executive led the TTFA from November 2019 to March 2020, but were removed by Fifa and a normalisation committee was appointed. The main job of the normalisation committee, headed by businessman Robert Hadad, is to get rid of the huge debt facing the local football body.
However, with the recent unearthing of these contractual disparities by Wallace, United TTFA members have openly rejected such actions from their fellow member.
“We stand by the principles of national sovereignty and the right of TTFA's membership to elect and remove officers, which is the premise of United TTFA's High Court action (against Fifa). But we also believe Wallace no longer holds the moral high ground,” the statement continued.
In February, United TTFA announced a four-year kit deal with Avec Sport, valuing it at TT$25 million, as a key element in TTFA’s debt ($50 million) reduction plan. Wallace then negotiated and signed the contract with Avec before obtaining approval or input from TTFA’s board of directors.
It was also revealed the TTFA board agreed, in December 2019, to hire Fenwick with the understanding he would be paid US$17,500 a month with other bonuses. Wallace, Ramdhan and Fenwick later signed an agreement the coach would receive a starting salary of US$20,000 per month with the possible increase to US$25,000 if the team qualified for the Gold Cup.
This, however, was not what the board had previously agreed on.
In the latest instance of Wallace’s contractual inconsistencies, United TTFA, on Monday, learnt of Ramdhan’s two-year contract courtesy regional sports broadcaster Sportsmax. After the quintet got wind of this development, they reached out to the former World Cup referee, who confirmed this information. This third contractual disparity seemed to push Wallace’s United TTFA members overboard.
When Newsday spoke to Look Loy on Tuesday, he condemned Wallace’s actions.
“We think he (Wallace) has lost a lot of moral high ground. We have been caught, not with our hands in the cookie jar, but by surprise. That is why we’ve called the meeting, it’s not that we’re parting ways. We came in on a certain platform – democracy, transparency and accountability – and his actions do not reflect that at all. It is with deep dismay and betrayal that we are seeing what is happening,” said the chairman of TTFA’s technical committee.
Attempts were made on Tuesday to extract a comment from Wallace and Ramdhan on these issues but calls to their respective phones went unanswered.
United TTFA is not a member of the local governing body. Although it has requested a meeting of the national fraternity’s member bodies (TT Pro League, Super League, Referees Association, zones etc.) for Saturday, there is no guarantee these arms would participate.
Look Loy remains hopeful the interested parties would join in on Saturday’s meeting, of which Wallace will also be a part, to “allow the members the opportunity to speak on all of the above, as well as the overall tenure of the Wallace administration.”
In another turn of events on Tuesday evening, Selby Browne, president of the Veteran Footballers Foundation of TT (VFFOTT), cautioned fellow TTFA members on the validity of Saturday’s possible online meeting.
As a non-TTFA member, he declared United TTFA had no authority to call a general meeting of the TTFA. Browne affirmed the constitution provides for a minimum of 50 per cent of the membership to call in writing, for a general meeting. He also questioned why United TTFA would choose such a time to convene a meeting, having been ousted from office by Fifa since mid-March.
“During the period November 24, 2019 to March 16, 2020, TTFA officers failed to call one single general meeting of the TTFA membership. It is amazing that they have the tenacity or persistence, to call for a general meeting when they have been removed from office by Fifa and a normalisation committee appointed time conduct the daily matters of administration of the TTFA.
“Worse any such meeting by the membership of the TTFA would have the effect to quite simply place those members in good standing in the TTFA in a position of compromise with Fifa. I therefore beseech the membership of the TTFA not to fall prey to any such outrageous utter rubbish that can lead to becoming besieged and compromised with the actions of the United TTFA,” Browne added.
Although Look Loy continues to criticise his fellow United TTFA member on his recent actions, he believes staying mum makes him a facilitator. In the same way United TTFA levelled criticism at the John-Williams administration, Look Loy affirms he and other members are exercising their democratic right while maintaining the slogan of transparency and accountability they all campaigned for.
“If we can liaise with members on Saturday, we can come to some conclusion. If the members want to leave him alone, rap him on the knuckles, throw him out and rake him over the coals or kick him out, the membership will decide. This is the democratic process,” Look Loy concluded.