By Paul Nicholson
June 8 – Former England defender Terry Fenwick, who was rapidly ushered in as head coach of the Trinidad and Tobago national team following a change of TTFA presidency, has been caught up in the scandal of that regime having allegedly forged signatures of sponsor support for the election campaign.
After just three months of the new Trinidad and Tobago FA leadership of William Wallace, FIFA stepped in with a Normalisation Committee to take control of the financially floundering association amid multiple allegations of financial irregularity, mounting debt and no credible financial plan to address that debt.
Fenwick had been appointed to the job of head coach – following the removal of Trinidad playing legend Dennis Lawrence – just days into the Wallace regime. Lawrence had 15 months remaining on his contract.
Now allegations have surfaced that Fenwick had been instrumental in campaigning for Wallace and the United TTFA slate of candidates that took control under the watchful eye of ringmaster Keith Look Loy. It was Look Loy – a close associate of football’s most wanted and disgraced former Concacaf president Jack Warner – who took the lead on the firing of Lawrence and the rapid appointment of Fenwick (he had been appointed to lead the TTFA’s football committee), effectively doubling head coach salary costs – Fenwick is believed to be earning $20,000 a month – for a federation that was already months behind in the payment of staff wages.
Fenwick is accused of having forged the signature on a letter pledging the sponsorship support of the Junior Sammy Group for a new Wallace regime if he took over at the TTFA. That letter was sent on Junior Sammy letterhead and signed by a Junior Sammy senior executive Hugh Murphy. The letter was later retracted with Murphy saying he hadn’t signed the letter and had no knowledge of it.
No-one has come forward to claim they signed the letter but when contacted Murphy reiterated he had no idea who signed it but that it had been dealt with.
What is confusing is that Junior Sammy group was already a supporter of the TTFA under previous president David John Williams. Indeed, the construction company had even provided equipment free of charge for the construction of the new House of Football that was completed just before the John Williams lost the election.
Murphy disputes this and told Insideworldfootball that there was absolutely no free supply of equipment and that it was a business arrangement that was paid for. This contradicts a video of a press conference, led by John Williams, where Junior Sammy Group is announced as a sponsor.
Murphy is an associate of Fenwick who can often be found in his company at the Trotters Sports Bar in Port of Spain, Trinidad.
It is Fenwick’s other associates that have raised cause for alarm and questions over the intentions of the Wallace regime for football on the island, or whether football is once again the vehicle for the self enrichment of a few individuals in typical Warner-esque style (Warner still retains ownership of the Concacaf Centre of Excellence that he maintains was gifted to him).
Fenwick is a long time associate of Englishman Peter Miller who was named as the TTFA’s marketing director and a facilitator of a kit deal with virtually unknown UK kit supplier AVEC. Sold to the TTFA membership and general public as a sponsorship deal, the contract actually talks about a ‘Kit Supply Agreement’ signed between the TTFA and AVEC, and seen by Insideworldfootball, that states that the federation must, every year of the four-year deal, sell at least 7,500 replica shirts (via its retail partner) as well as spend £125,000 on equipment with AVEC before it can receive any of its national team kit free of charge. That deal has now fallen apart with reports that AVEC is chasing the TTFA $1.4 million for breach of contract – considerably more than it would have likely earned from the sale of replica kit.
Miller hit the headlines in the UK in February following his resignation as a board director from Port Vale, a board he had supposedly bought his way on to with the acquisition of £250,000 shares and the promise that he could bring new investors to the club. He was salaried and given a company car but it was later discovered he hadn’t completed the share acquisition nor had he managed to secure new money for the club. He left Port Vale on the edge of bankruptcy.
He remerged in Trinidad as the principal conduit in a ‘General Working Agreement’ between another unknown UK company, Lavender Consulting, over the proposed development of the Arima Velodrome project which was to be a $47 million mixed use commercial, sporting and housing development. A by-product of which would see Lavender clear the debt of the TTFA, according to the agreement.
Miller is a long time associate of Lavendar Consulting principal John Mitchell, who like Fenwick is a former professional footballer. Mitchell has a dubious reputation in English football having been found guilty in 2007 of various charges by the FA of rule breaches concerning agents while he was a board director of Luton Town – a project he involved Miller with. He was later barred from being a company director for three years for having allowed the club to trade while in debt to the UK’s tax authorities to the tune of £3.5 million.
That the new TTFA leadership would throw its local weight and influence behind a new development just weeks after the recently opened House of Football was closed by Wallace’s administration (as almost its first act of leadership) raised more questions over that leadership from multiple regulatory and governance perspectives.
Insideworldfootball has seen the agreement between the TTFA and unknown consultants Lavendar Consulting (abbreviated, perhaps appropriately, to Lavcon) and it raises more questions than answers regarding the seriousness of the proposal, the source of the finance, the exact relationship between the TTFA and Lavendar, and who the ultimate financial beneficiaries would be from the project.
Lavcon had been sold as having built stadia in Qatar. Questions of the Qatar 2022 organisers can find no reference to the company or its principles.
Meanwhile Fenwick has somehow managed to stay in post under the Normalisation Committee which he now says was the correct decision by FIFA to install.
Those that appointed him but were then removed have continued an unstinting campaign against FIFA and Concacaf taking their case to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) before withdrawing it just as a payment to the court became due, saying that CAS was fixed. It is a line that they have continually played in their unquestioning and friendly media both on the islands and off it, claiming they were unlawfully removed.
Support for Wallace and his elected but disbanded leadership has received virtually no support from anywhere else in the Caribbean – a region that frequently expresses solidarity on football’s political issues.
One reason is that while memories can sometimes be short, the links between Wallace and his committee with Jack Warner are still drawn with great suspicion. With the FBI investigations and FIFA indictments the true depth of Warner’s thieving from football’s Caribbean associations became evident.
Warner didn’t do it all quire on his own but was enabled by his Trinidad support. Pre-election Warner met with Wallace and his United TTFA candidates, a meeting later denied by Wallace and vehemently denied by one section of the Trinidad press. So either Warner is lieing or Wallace is.
What can’t be denied is that on his team he had two of Warner’s closest associates through all of the darkest years of Caribbean football corruption.
Look Loy was a FIFA development officer when the Centre of Excellence was built and an ever present in Warner’s entourage, while Joseph Sam Phillips, an elected committee member with Wallace, was a national team manager under Warner and can usually be found playing cards with him every weekend.
It all looks very much like a house of cards that has never really been dismantled. Sadly the big losers in all of this are Trinidad and Tobago footballers who just want to play the game, and the talented ones who should have had an opportunity to develop and pursue it as a career.
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