By Paul Nicholson
May 6 – Former FIFA vice president and Concacaf president Jack Warner will not be getting a final pay day from football as he battles extradition to the US where he has been indicted on multiple charges of fraud, money laundering, racketeering and corruption.
Warner headed a list of Trinidad and Tobago FA creditors who met yesterday to approve a debt repayment proposal through the country’s Bankruptcy Act.
Warner’s claim was for TT$22.7 million ($3.3 million), though the trustee for the TTFA who had come up with the creditor’s proposal told the meeting that Warner had not submitted a claim for validation of the debt.
With Warner’s debt out of the equation that left a lot more of the $3.5 million loan arranged for the TTFA to go around its other, legitimate creditors. Though legitimate is a word that should only ever be used loosely in Trinidad football’s financial history.
Two creditors on the list who most would question the legitimacy of are former coach Terry Fenwick, who was fired and was paid a compensation package, but had come back to the table with his hand out for another payment claiming he had been instrumental in Trinidad and Tobago’s qualification for the 2021 Gold Cup. Rumours are that he has been given a sweetener payment to go away, again. If that is the case then it once again smells of backdoor deals done by a FIFA that puts expediency before morality and transparency.
The other English name on the list is Peter Miller, well known in the UK for leaving a trail of financial devastation behind him. Miller was appointed marketing director of the TTFA and survived the replacement of the William Wallace TTFA administration by the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee.
Miller failed to deliver a single paying sponsorship and during his tenure never once set foot on the islands, despite drawing a salary. It is understood that he is receiving a part payment for work done. His claim was the sixth highest on the creditors list at TT$3.96 million ($570,000).
Any payment to Miller will be of interest to the English FA and to English league club Port Vale whose administrators Begbies Trainor have been chasing Miller for an unpaid share transaction of £100,000. On the basic principle that football operates worldwide that football creditors are in first position on debt repayment, there may be a case for Port Vale to intervene in Trinidad to secure their own debt.
How Fenwick and Miller managed to secure payment is a mystery and will leave a bitter taste to those football creditors – most notably the unpaid coaches – who will not be receiving a full payment of their debts and who have court-backed judgements verifying the amounts owed. Normalisation committee chair Robert Hadad has, by his own admittance, said he is friendly with both Fenwick and Miller. Significantly he is less friendly – indeed, in some cases confrontational – with the coaches who served the national teams with distinguished records in the past but who will now not be paid in full for their service.
The TTFA trustee outlined that $3.5 million was available to the TTFA as an interest free loan which will be repaid over 10 years. The source of the loan was not revealed though clearly it is from FIFA with the claw back to be taken from the TTFA’s annual grant.
Creditors owed up to TT$200,000 ($29,000) will be paid in full and the balances above that will be pro-rated at 60% of what is owed.
“There were 299 creditors listed in the Trustee’s repayment proposal with a total unsecured debt of TT$84.5 million. Ninety-three of these submitted, had claims amounting to $59.3m of which eighty-eight were validated with a value of $34.4m before today’s meeting. Fifty-one of them (or their proxies) registered and voted at today’s meeting,” said a TTFA statement.
The creditor’s agreement is being heralded as a new dawn for the TTFA and there is a huge amount of self congratulation by Hadad and his entourage for at last managing to steer through an agreement. He, of course, is not taking any 40% reduction in his fee for his management of the TTFA that now has a debt solution but is still in a parlous situation.
The real achievement for Hadad will be to remove himself from football via the organisation of elections for a new president and board.
The irony of course in this whole process of dealing with the TTFA’s debt, was that way back in 2019, pretty much the same borrowing proposal was being discussed. Under that proposal all the legitimate claims would have been paid in full, sponsors were being lined up, and Trinidad and Tobago were still a competitive force in the Caribbean and Concacaf region.
Since then pretty much the only people to have been paid on the nail, every month, have been Hadad and his Normalisation Committee. In total about $400,000. Add in another $100,000 for the trustee and it comes $500,000.
A lot of money spent to not play football.
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