By Paul Nicholson
September 7 – Football’s Most Wanted, Jack Warner (pictured), has prevented more than 100 Trinidad and Tobago football creditors being paid after he challenged the settlement agreement made with the trustee in the Trinidad and Tobago courts earlier this week.
Creditors will now have to wait until September 26 to find out if the court will accept the agreement as proposed, or whether the agreement will have to be redrawn with the inclusion of Warner’s claim. If that happens it appears likely that the source of the loan funds underpinning the creditors’ agreement will be withdrawn and no-one will get paid.
Warner had his own claim for TT$22.7 million ($3.3 million) claim refused by the trustee handling the creditors’ agreement who deemed his claim was invalid. Warner was joined in his court appeal by former TTFA head coach Terry Fenwick who similarly had a claim over unpaid wages denied.
It is understood that Fenwick had already agreed, and received, a severance payment when he was fired from his head coach position in early 2021.
Many of the TTFA creditors who agreed to the settlement proposal have been waiting for payment for more than three years as the federation lurched deeper and deeper into financial crisis, to the point FIFA stepped in and appointed a Normalisation Committee.
Eventually a trustee was appointed under the country’s insolvency laws to find a solution to the crippling and unresolved TTFA debt. The trustee informed creditors that a $3.5 million loan had been secured, and their approval of a debt repayment proposal was sought that was being administered via the country’s Bankruptcy Act.
Creditors owed up to TT$200,000 ($29,000) were to be paid in full and the balances above that will be pro-rated at 60% of what is owed. That agreement was before the court for approval yesterday (September 6).
Attorneys for Fenwick and Warner appealed against their exclusion from the settlement and Justice Rampersad dissolved the hearing to review their appeals.
Previously the trustee said Warner had not submitted a validation of his debt claim and hence his claim was deemed outside the settlement. No-one has been able to shed light on what Warner’s claim was for.
The TTFA trustee outlined that the $3.5 million loan secured to pay off the debt, would be repaid over 10 years. Any claim by Warner, if accepted, would radically alter the terms of the creditor’s agreement as his claim alone comes close to the full amount of the loan agreed.
The source of the loan agreed for the TTFA has not been formally revealed though clearly it is from FIFA, with the claw back most likely to be taken from the TTFA’s annual grant over the 10-year repayment plan.
Sources told Insideworldfootball in June that that “there is no way in hell FIFA will loan money to Trinidad and Tobago FA to pay off Warner”.
If Warner’s appeal is upheld and he is included in a forced redraft of the creditors’ agreement the other creditors will see their payments dramatically reduced.
“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 in June following a creditors’ meeting.
Once again Warner’s long shadow is casting an ugly pall over the future of Trinidad and Tobago football.
Earlier this summer Warner’s final extradition hearing was heard by the UK’s Privy Council – the highest authority for Trinidad and Tobago’s legal disputes. A ruling is awaited that will effectively decide whether Warner can be sent to the US to face multiple counts of fraud, money laundering and graft – charges that could mean he spends the rest of his life in prison.
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