By Paul Nicholson
October 8 – The soap opera of the Trinidad and Tobago FA continues to lurch from storyline to storyline with seemingly no end to this high seas Caribbean drama that FIFA’s Normalisation Committee were meant to draw a line under.
It seems that rather progress to those calmer waters of financial security the TTFA has been steered in the other direction with the chair of the Normalisation Committee, Robert Hadad, even making the stunning revelation in a media interview that the TTFA was trading insolvently.
Hadad’s statement followed a barrage of criticism following the TTFA’s AGM on September 26 where the TTFA membership refused to approve the audited accounts that had controversially stripped out the TT$42,524,000 valuation of the House of Football (HoF) facility from the TTFA’s assets.
That in turn triggered multiple questions over why the deed for the ownership of the land on which the HoF is built (and which FIFA provided grant aid to build), had not been secured in the name of the TTFA from the government.
The question was asked that as pretty much the only asset of real value the TTFA held, surely it was a priority to make sure it was secured in the TTFA’s name.
This revelation compounded issues the membership had over why TTFA’s debt had ballooned from their last approved 2018 audited debt figure of TT$50,079,344 to $98.5 million for the 2019 accounts. The explanation given was that TT$50,079,344 represented contingent liabilities.
The concern was that the TTFA’s debt and who it is owed to (legitimately or not) is well known, but the Normalisation Committee had done little or nothing to deal with it while at the same time NC member have had their own fees paid but failed to secure the only asset the TTFA had that could realistically get them out of financial trouble – either through sale or being used as loan security.
Distrust has been compounded by the fact that while NC members have regularly been paid, many of the TTFA’s staff wages – historic and some current – are still outstanding.
For Hadad to then tell the nation that the TTFA was trading insolvently – something he presumably knew before the AGM – set off another set of financial integrity alarm bells.
At the AGM on September 26, the membership called for an EGM to be called within 14 days to reconsider the audited financial statement. That takes place on this Sunday (October 10 at 10am).
When the Normalisation Committee was appointed it was given a strict mandate by FIFA with four priorities. They were to run the daily affairs of the TTFA, review the debt position of the TTFA and make a recommendation to members of the best way to resolve it, bring the TTFA constitution into line with the statutes of FIFA, and call elections for new four-year terms for the TTFA presidency and its other elected board members.
An audit of the NC would likely find that Hadad and his committee have forgotten (being generous) or failed in what they were brought in to do in the first instance. The next scene in the TTFA Soap Opera will be played out on Sunday, but it surely won’t be long before FIFA have to re-enter centrestage in this drama rather than prompting from the wings.
But that of course presumes they care or have the inclination to deal with the troubled child that the TTFA has made itself. Giving the child an ice-cream hasn’t been the solution to date.
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