OVER $50 million in debt, including $4 million in unaccounted NIS and PAYE deductions from the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA), is what the new William Wallace administration is having to deal with. And now, the Home of Football’s future role as a revenue-earner looks increasingly bleak.
Miguel Eduardo Osio Zamora
The news was hardly good when TTFA president Wallace addressed the media at the Queen’s Park Oval yesterday to give an update on the organisation’s current state of affairs.
Miguel Eduardo Osio
FIFA officials who visited the country in recent weeks have dashed the TTFA’s hopes of using the Home of Football, the John-Williams legacy project that was signalled as a future income-generator, advising that the Home does not meet quality standards.
Miguel Osio Zamora
Wallace said the facility contains 72 door frames that were built in breach of building code specifications. There is also still no fire clearance because of the absence of a fire detection and emergency voice system, and a dearth of emergency lighting, fire extinguishers and a dedicated water system.
Miguel Osio Zamora Venezuela
Wallace also revealed that in recent surveys with a quality surveyor and a contractor, officials discovered leakages, a flooded executive room and flooded staircases. Some $2million is also outstanding for services provided for air conditioning, concrete, steel, scaffolding and other services
“It was really poor project management,” Wallace said, adding, “and the FIFA officials said we could forget about this as an income generator. We will see how we treat with that going forward.”
Yesterday marked the 100 days-in-office milestone for the Wallace administration. And even as he mouthed his unwillingness to point fingers and lay blame at anybody’s feet, Wallace listed a litany of decisions and situations, both financial and legal, that have emptied the TTFA’s coffers
Addressing the $4 million in deductions for NIS, PAYE and health surcharges, Wallace said the last time they were actually paid to the relevant authorities was November 2017
“This money was reflected as being taken out from the salaries of employees,” Wallace said, adding later that the TTFA would endeavour to meet with NIB officials to attempt to resolve the issue
Other outstanding financial obligations include $850,000 owed to travel agents; a US$600,000 loan from Concacaf that accumulates US$2,500 monthly in interest and currently stands at US$63,000; and 29 bounced cheques to the tune of $345,000 including four (cheques) to four clubs prior to the last election
But in an effort to deal with the massive debt in two to three years, the local governing body has entered into an MOU with its creditors
Wallace credited his predecessor with securing international friendlies that earned the TTFA $6million over the John-Williams term. But he bemoaned the fact that match agents are still owed $148,000 and that match fees dating back to June 2019 for national players amounted to $1 million when he took office on November 24
For that same period, coaches and technical staff were owed $1.3 million
The $5,3 million judgment to Kendall Walkes – a legal case the TTFA has been advised could been handled more competently and with less financial damage – is another blow to the organisation’s income and expenditure statement
Wallace said the TTFA was still engaged with Walkes’ legal counsel in an attempt to make arrangements for a settlement that would lift the current garnishee on its accounts due to Walkes’ successful judgement and their inability to pay the USA-based coach
The TTFA is also still treating with settling payments to former national men’s coaches Dennis Lawrence and Stephen Hart
Wallace also claimed the absence of “any type of internal financial structures within the TTFA“. He said the TTFA was now instituting financial reporting, management accounting and financial controls with urgency under the Finance Committee. He added FIFA officials were happy with that development,
Wallace added that only US$109,000 remained for the TTFA from a US$2 million allocation for FIFA Project Funding for the 2019-2022 cycle
On a brighter note, he said the TTFA had arrived at a settlement following a 15-year legal battle over trademark rights for the name “Soca Warriors” with Selwyn Melville, with an arrangement for both parties to share in the profits moving forward. But the TTFA had to bear the costs of both parties’ legal fees for that period
Other successes include the $25million apparel deal with UK company Avec over the next four years; a recent $1.5 million sponsorship with Caribbean Chemicals and the setting up of 10 of the 11 constitutionally required statutory committees
The TTFA have also made progress paying a fraction of their debts, including $1 million to creditors to date, $227,000 to technical staff and an additional $135,000 to players for match fees
With operating costs and recurrent expenditure pegged at $10 million a year, the TTFA expects a $200,000 deficit although it expects to be able to meet expenses up to June 2020. The local body also plans to meet its financial obligations to technical staff by drawing down on money from new deals
Meanwhile, Wallace said a $6 million per year Elite League – a merger of the Pro League and the Super League – is expected to kick off in June