Warner’s toppled TTFA disciples file final throw of the dice at CAS

By Paul Nicholson

April 9 – The former president and board of the Trinidad and Tobago FA (TTFA) have followed through on their promise and yesterday filed an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) against their removal and replacement by a FIFA Normalisation Committee.

In a remarkable video statement on their crowd sourcing ‘gofundme’ page, former TTFA president William Wallace (pictured) maintains that he is still in charge of the TTFA, saying: “To be clear I remain president of TTFA based on our constitution… I can only be removed by the operation of the TTFA’s own constitution not by FIFA.”

Wallace has raise part of the money fund via the fund raising page which at press time had managed reach just $3,155 of its target 25,000 – hardly a ringing endorsement from the local football community for Wallace’s claims of serious foul play.

The fund raising page at press time had managed reach just $3,155 of its target 25,000, suggesting that local support is non-existent for the CAS appeal.

One of those that has donated is Keith Look Loy, the TTFA’s former technical committee chair under the Wallace administration, who paid in $200. Look Loy is the president of the Trinidad and Tobago Super League, who has said that the league’s clubs have agreed a donation of $2,000. That donation is itself in dispute as a number of clubs say they were never asked and would never have agreed to funding the appeal.

CAS appeals generally cost about $20,000 with the appellant’s legal costs generally doubling that amount. The filed appeal by Wallace and his former board members requests a sole arbitrator that, depending on the case, would reduce fees to $10,000 and expedite the process. Currently the appellants have paid the first CHF 1,000 to file the appeal, quite where they will get the rest required to proceed is unclear.

Money has always been the dominating issue under Wallace’s regime with staff having only been paid once (and by an outside benefactor) during his three-month reign, and the TTFA’s bank accounts having been frozen by a Trinidad and Tobago court over unpaid debt and Wallace refusal to talk with the debtor regarding a payment plan. Wallace’s team even failed to turn up to a court hearing.

In his somewhat faltering and uncomfortable video address, Wallace says that he and his board were removed “before we had a chance to implement plans for increased transparency and financial probity.”

His claims towards moving towards “transparency and financial probity” have caused amusement within the half of the TTFA football community that didn’t follow the Wallace/Look Loy line. One board member who spoke anonymously said that while he had supported and gathered votes for Wallace, once Wallace had taken power decisions that should have been brought before the board were being made without board input, while there was never any clarity over TTFA appointments or funding plans but there was a lot of “mischief”.

Wallace and the TTFA has refused to respond to Insideworldfootball’s questions.

Examination of the TTFA’s kit deal with AVEC and a Memorandum of Understanding with Lavendar for the $50 million development of the Arima Velodrome, raise serious questions around the financial probity of the TTFA’s board.

The Arima development MoU talks of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that would be established to handle the project. No details of partners or ultimate beneficiaries of the SPV are mentioned and Wallace has refused to respond to questions when asked.

That development’s genesis shows a trail linking to Peter Miller, named as the TTFA’s marketing director in the UK, and better known in the UK form his time as former chairman of Port Vale having bought his position via a £250,000 share acquisition that he never fulfilled.

He is a close associate of TTFA’s national team manager Terry Fenwick. Fenwick took over from Denis Lawrence in November as one of the first appointments by Look Loy and Wallace, saddling the TTFA with another estimated $500,000 contractual debt it couldn’t pay.

Miller also worked in the past with Lavendar principle Roger Mitchell at Luton Town

The speed of which Wallace and his team closed down the recently opened House of Football venue has raises unanswered questions over whether the TTFA team and its associates were ever really motivated to develop football on the island but more interested in the opportunity of property development in Arima. Certainly the deal making history of Miller, Mitchell and Fenwick would point to the later.

The timing of the CAS appeal came as the US Department of Justice released a third superceding indictment with new charges totalling another $5 million of fraud against former TTFA bigwig, Concacaf president and FIFA vice president Jack Warner.

Look Loy and Sam Phillip (named as one of the appellants in the CAS appeal) are long time disciples of Warner. Wallace was a key member of the TTFA when Warner was in his power wielding pomp. Before his election in November last year, Wallace went with Look Loy and his team to meet Warner and get his advice, a visit confirmed by Warner in a television interview.

One can only wonder at the advice Warner would have given them. Certainly focussing on the financial opportunity of property is straight out the Warner playbook – his family owns and operates the Centre of Excellence built for Concacaf with FIFA money.

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