January 11 – The beleaguered Trinidad and Tobago FA (TTFA), under the control of a FIFA normalisation committee but still unashamedly refusing to meet its debts, in particular to former employees and coaches sacked under the ousted regime of William Wallace, could turn to the House of Football as the solution to its deepening money problems.
Normalisation committee chair Robert Hadad – who has yet to make any significant impact in terms of creating a new era for football in the country, let alone deal with the historical debt – has told local media he wants to regain control of the House of Football (HoF) facility.
Hadad said that the TTFA would like to begin use of the HoF which was opened in November 2019 as a hotel and training facility for visiting teams.
Built under the tenure of former president David John-Williams (pictured left at opening with TT prime minister Keith Rowley and FIFA president Gianni Infantino), it was shut within two weeks of opening when Wallace and his slate of ‘United TTFA’ candidates and cohorts took control of the federation. They went to great lengths to portray it as not fit for purpose.
It remained closed until the government (the facility is built on land leased from the government) took control and opened the 72-room hotel complex in Balmain, Couva, as a step-down facility for covid-19 patients.
Built with FIFA grant money at a cost of about $2.5 million, the HoF is the only tangible asset the TTFA has. The federation has about TT$70 million (about $10 million) of debt that ballooned under the disastrous regime of Wallace.
That debt has doubled from the TT$35 million recognised by John-Williams in November 2019 when he left office (John-Williams refused to recognise a number of historical debts – including a mysterious TT$ 22 million amount claimed by disgraced Concacaf president Jack Warner).
Hadad has created a rod for his own back by not dealing with TTFA creditors and is yet to unite a very fractured and deeply bruised football community. The House of Football looks like it could be his only financial salvation but would require FIFA to agree the borrowing of new funds against the facility as security. That would similarly require Hadad being able to show he has the ability to monetise it.
The 60-year lease on the land is understood to stand at $1 per year. A $600,000 to $1 million mortgage on the $2.5 million property could be sustainable, according to local sources.
Trinidad and Tobago were returned from suspension by FIFA just before deadlines that would have ruled the country out of Gold Cup 2021 and Qatar 2022 qualification tournaments. Hadad now has to find a way to repay that confidence in the country and its wider football comminuty, and the debt mountain built by his predecessors.
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