Trinidad and Tobago head coach Terry Fenwick is in a no-nonsense mood ahead of World Cup qualifiers, newly adjusted to make up for lost international windows after sports shut down in the last few months.

Fenwick, who has been training with a local-based contingent since travel restrictions stopped the movement of overseas-based players, says he will not be tolerating any players who do not have the right attitude.

“If you’re not doing it, I put somebody in the wings ready to step in and step up,” he said.

Fenwick reduced an 87-man squad to 27 over the course of two months and will do so again for the start of World Cup qualifiers in three months, before adding the overseas contingent of players.

According to Fenwick, players will not get comfortable in his team and will not believe they have automatic spots. The coach says he believes in healthy competition for players as being the way to extract the most effort from them.

“I will be making them changes, so that I do not have people on the inside thinking ‘hah, I’m good’,” said Fenwick.

“I want it competitive, all the time, every time.”

The elegant twin towers that decorate the POS horizon are both the same height.  If one is looking at them from the west one looks taller than the other; to the observer from the east one also looks taller than the other except that if both persons compare notes there will be an argument as to which tower is taller. It is a matter of perspective.

The issue arises when perspectives are being peddled as facts and more so when there is an attempt to use these “FACTS” to reshape an individual’s character.

Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake.

When a story broke on Sportsmax that the salary signed off on Terry Fenwick’s contract is not what we agreed on.  My initial thoughts were that Terry unilaterally changed the terms of his contract.  In an attempt to get clarity on the situation, an easy solution was put forward; throw Terry under the bus.

Mistakes can be made, but to throw someone under the bus is deliberate and does not come naturally to me.

Further discussions revealed, for the first time to me at least, the details of the negotiations in finalizing the contract.  My understanding then and still is that the terms in the contract that came under scrutiny were indeed part of the final settlement but the MISTAKE was that they should not have been reflected in the final TTFA contract.  I admitted then that a mistake was made and that it would be corrected.

  Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

 Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake.

Even with this explanation, the matter refused to die and the narrative changed to one that said, the President unilaterally changed the terms of the contract and this narrative was given more life when a member of my own team endorsed it.

The facts are as follows:

  • I played absolutely no role in the negotiation of Fenwick’s contract. This negotiation was left entirely in the hands of the Technical Committee
  • Two emails were sent to me by the GS on Tuesday, December 17th, while I was in Qatar. The Subject: Adjusted terms and conditions.

 In one email the GS indicated that there was agreement on the final terms of the contract.   The attachment in the email indicated a salary of USD 20,000.

 

The second email forwarded was from Peter Miller to Keith Lookloy.  Details of the second email are as follows;

 

Dear Keith,

After much discussions, a revised position has been arrived at which is attached for your information prior to our discussions on Thursday. Please feel free to give feedback in order to arrive at a firm position given the urgency of the matter.

Kind regards.  

The attachment in this email indicated a salary of USD 20,000.

 

  • I assumed that the final terms would have been sent by the negotiating team to the attorney to prepare the contract.
  • When the contract came back to me and was handed over by my General secretary for signing there were no red flags.
  • I signed the contract believing that the terms therein were agreed on with my negotiating team.

Questions:

 Were the terms agreed on at the end of the negotiations and sent to the attorney for the preparation of the contract altered?  If the answer is yes then the action could not be ascribed to me, since I played absolutely no part in the process but just signed off on the product.

If the answer is no; Is it that clear directions were not given to the attorney as to what should have been put into the contract?

How could it then be concluded and supported by persons who are aware of the facts that the President changed the terms of Terry Fenwick’s contract?

General Secretary

I move to the other issue and that is the Ramesh Ramdhan’s contract.  As one Senior Counsel puts it; “from reviewing the TTFA constitution it seems as though the General Secretary is the sole responsibility of the President.  The discussion with the Board is merely a courtesy”

Even without this interpretation, I acted based on my own interpretation of the constitution, along with common sense and logic.  My condemnation in this matter was based merely on the persons who were speaking the loudest and fuelled by their own agenda.

Nowhere in the constitution speaks to the Board drawing up the terms and conditions of the GS.  The Board role is to appoint or dismiss the GS on the proposal of the President.  Ramdhan was proposed to the Board and the Board agreed to his appointment.  A suggestion was made by a Board member that the length of the contract be one year, and I say a suggestion because the Board is not empowered to draw up the terms of the GS contract.  If this power is ascribed to the Board it means that all the other terms of the contract should have been drawn up by the Board and not just the length of the contract.

Just to draw on a bit of logic, if in my discussions with Mr Ramdhan, he refused a one-year contract, is it that I had to search until I find someone who agreed with the proposed one year.  

 Even with that said, the reason for giving the General Secretary a two-year contract was not shrouded in any conspiracy and is in fact more than reasonable. Factors such as the two years contract agreed on for the National Senior team staff; the role the GS had to play in the role out of the activities of the FA, and average term given to previous secretaries were all taken into consideration. 

As one of the framers of the constitution said in a recent article, once the decision was made and taken back to the Board, the Board had to accept. This position is consistent with the Senior Counsel who indicated it’s a matter of courtesy. Unfortunately, the courtesy to the Board was curtailed by the Covid19 shutdown.  Just to note the GS has never been paid. 

Did the President preparation of General Secretary’s contract, based on the interpretation of the constitution unilaterally change the terms of the General Secretary contract?

Unfortunately, the two acts above were responsible for my team making a statement that they have lost confidence in me. Even more unfortunate this position was made public before I was given the chance to be heard. The team has since met and recommitted to moving forward.

  Peter Miller

As part of the United TTFA, I was initially asked to consider leading the group but refused to commit. The major reason given for my noncommittal was the financial state of the TTFA.  I reasoned that the only way that I am committing is if there is a plan to deal with the debt.  During this period, my deceased friend, Raymond Timkee shared with me a very impressive commercial package designed for the TTFA, that was negotiated on his behalf, and which would be implemented if he was elected president. In that package was a plan to deal with the historic debt of the FA, and of course, that piqued my interest.  I was also introduced to the name, Peter Miller.

 Based on Mr Timkee’s failing health he eventually asked me to go forward with the plan. The package was presented to the other members United TTFA and they were all impressed.

I gave my word to Peter Miller that if I was elected president, I will honour the agreement that he had with Timkee. The truth is Peter Miller’s package/presentation was responsible for us winning the elections, our campaign was based on its content and we were heavily dependent on its successful rolling out after November 24th.

Post-November 24th, Peter Miller indicated that he needed an agreement before he moves forward to firm up the pre-election letters of intent. This was not an unreasonable request; however, it presented a dilemma for me to find a way to transition the un-official arrangement with the United TTFA to the TTFA.  Settling this quickly was made even more urgent since by then, we realised that the situation that we met in the FA was even more dire than we expected and that we had to depend on Miller to deliver.

The GS and I tried to find a way to navigate the situation, but the options were few.  The only workable decision open to us at that time was the one I took and that is a decision to sign an agreement with Miller.

I took this decision as leader of the team and decided not to burden anyone else with it.

Was there an inherent risk? Yes, but there are times when you have little choice.

Agreement

  • Miller position was that no changes be made to the original agreement with Raymond Timkee, however, my suggestion to Miller was that the flat rates quoted as a monthly salary would have to be reflected as a percentage of what was delivered and that there were no issues if instead of lumpsum payments the disbursement was done monthly.

It did not matter to me what the percentage was because the numbers were already agreed on with Raymond and I gave my word before the elections that I will honour the agreement.  In addition, my own philosophy is that we had nothing so whatever came in would be more than we had.

  • Via email, Miller asked if any part of FIFA funding could be used for marketing. The GS responded via mail that FIFA Forward funding cannot be used for in any way. (emails available)

The Plan

  • To sign a letter of intent since any binding contract of this nature has to be approved by the Board. The intent, of course, was to make sure that Miller remained on board and what we campaigned and depended on could still be delivered.
  • Payment to Miller would come from what he brings to the table so there is no direct risk to the TTFA
  • We get the Board to agree in principle that we have to outsource marketing. The Board did agree.
  • The roll-out of the sponsorship was carded for June. Once the successful roll-out commenced, a recommendation would have been taken to the Board to officially contract Miller as the marketing person.

Conclusion

  • Since entering office, no action taken by me brought any personal benefits to me, my intentions were that TTFA would always be the beneficiary.
  • A major part of our relationship with Miller was the proposed project to finally eliminate the historic debt of the FA. Everyone would agree that this has to be addressed.
  • A headline in Wired868 that said I lied, was unfortunate. When asked if Peter Miller had a contract with the TTFA, in an attempt to manage an ongoing situation, I answered no. Well, technically the answer was correct, but I do not want to hide behind any technicality and in retrospect, the answer could have been… I would respond to the question at a later date.

 

  Mistakes are a fact of life. It is the response that counts.

 Leadership is about being humble enough to admit your mistake

Of major importance is that even though these matters may have originated inhouse, there is a very important reason why they are playing out like this in the public domain. In the coming weeks, the picture would be made much clearer.

Thank you.

At the time of publishing, it has been 60 programme hours since the SportsMax Zone asked questions of the duly elected President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association, TTFA, William Wallace.

FIFA’s latest football rankings published this week listed the Caribbean powerhouse Trinidad and Tobago at 105th in the world, their second-lowest in history.

A Normalization Committee appointed by FIFA is charged with sorting out dire financial and administrative affairs of the TT Football Association (TTFA) but will the virus that has seen the regional giants plummet to their lowest levels all-time be tackled as well in this process?

The eight-time Caribbean Football Union (CFU) champions have now spent a 10th consecutive month outside the world’s top-100.

The last time T&T’s Soca Warriors were the top-rated Caribbean team on the FIFA Coca-Cola Rankings was October 2016. From 65th in the world three and a half years ago, they have steadily plunged to embarrassing levels, not good enough for a football programme that had long been regarded as the best in the Caribbean.

Absorbed in a political football power war in the past year that included acrimonious election campaigning and subsequent unseating of David John-Williams (DJW) as President, T&T’s football results have been ghastly.

The Coronavirus has dismantled all sporting schedules globally and maybe it’s a good thing for T&T’s football since the inactivity may have eased their fans from some more painful match results.

Former England international and 1986 World Cup defender Terry Fenwick is the new head coach, replacing Dennis Lawrence and the straight-talking ex-defender’s job is likely to be negatively impacted by the current administrative turmoil.

Indeed, there are already media reports of heated exchanges Fenwick has had with the Technical team over dissatisfaction with efforts to sort out passports for foreign-born players being targeted for T&T representation.

T&T’s football fraternity is divided over FIFA’s intervention that sidelined last November’s elected executive, whose attorneys Matthew Gayle and Dr Emir Crowne have now gone to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in an effort to annul FIFA’s intervention.

FIFA’s track record globally clearly indicates they are powerful enough and have the right to intervene in any of its 211 affiliates’ administrative affairs if they are deemed not to be following the FIFA Statutes -- rules and regulations – that they themselves have signed to.

Opponents of the FIFA intervention in T&T reason that it was indecently done, given the fact the new executive had only been in place for three months, trying to tackle massive financial problems that were largely inherited.

The fact that serious financial problems existed when John-Williams was boss and FIFA did not intervene, begs the question why didn’t they at the time? The answer is fairly obvious. John-Williams has a good relationship with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino and profited from FIFA’s support and understanding.

Days ahead of the November 24, 2019 TTFA elections, Infantino attended the glitzy opening of John-Williams’s biggest project, the “Home of Football” in Couva and he praised DJW as a leader displaying “wisdom and vision” with the project the FIFA President said represented “an investment in the future”.

Unruffled that T&T were just coming off setting all-time records for longest losing streak, winless streak and run of games without scoring, Infantino downplayed results in a SportsMax interview with George Davis, declaring firmly that when there is a heavy investment in stability with an eye for future development it was wrong to make a “sporting result (loss)” become a “tragedy” or a “catastrophe”.

Asserting obvious support for DJW’s team ahead of the TTFA Elections, Infantino defended the Home of Football investment as a building tool for the country’s football. “You need to build, you need to be stable … and that’s exactly what has been done and then the results will come because of the seriousness of the investment. We have now a solid foundation in this so that football can grow and be built and I am sure this will happen in the future with John-Williams,” Infantino said.

Infantino’s “future with John-Williams” narrative was ruined by DJW’s 26-20 loss to William Wallace’s men at the TTFA polls and I suspect that as far as FIFA is concerned, the wrong men are in charge.

A FIFA/CONCACAF audited study of the TTFA’s Finances in February apparently triggered the move to step in and remove the elected officials even though General Secretary Ramesh Ramdhan had reported to local media then that the mission was favourable and that FIFA were on their side.  

Leadership of major sporting organisations has long been about politics and power and football presidency at the global and confederation levels perfectly illustrate this.

I attended a few Caribbean Football Union (CFU) congress sessions that were open to the media during Jack Warner’s reign and saw the God-like sway he held over his subjects as a FIFA Vice-President and the CONCACAF Chief.

With that power, also came freedom to make unobstructed decisions, especially in a FIFA culture fashioned by Joao Havelange that while financially flourishing always had integrity question marks.

Brazilian Havelange, widely considered Warner’s mentor, enjoyed a 24-year reign -- before Sepp Blatter took over in 1998 – that boasted exponential football growth while never entertaining opposition. History shows you don’t fight FIFA and win so the odds are heavily against the relegated TTFA executive challenging this move by FIFA.

In the meantime, T&T’s football fans deserve more from their national team. Their October 2010 ranking of 106th in a brief sojourn outside FIFA’s top-100 almost 10 years ago, is the only ever weaker ranking position than they have now. Heading for a whole year outside FIFA’s top-100 as they are now, is unheard of in T&T’s glamorous football history.

How and when will the turnaround happen? Fenwick did not make it as a manager in his native England, but has had success in T&T, copping Pro League titles with Central FC (twice) and San Juan Jabloteh. He knows the T&T landscape well enough but appears short on the kind of talent that has propelled T&T’s International programme in the past.

Normalisation Committee chairman Robert Hadad, Judy Daniel and Nigel Romano along with the yet-to-be-named others on a five-member panel will have a tough job resuscitating T&T’s football, especially in this contentious climate fraught with bitterness and legal dispute.

Head coach of the Trinidad Tobago senior football team, Terry Fenwick, believes his experience in the T&T Pro League will serve him well as he attempts to turn around the flagging fortunes of the twin-island republic.

Fenwick was offered a two-year deal by the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association’s Technical Committee earlier this week but must show improvement for that to be increased to four years.

According to the former England defender, who had successful stints with San Juan Jabloteh and Central FC in the T&T Pro League, his experience with the very players who now make up the national squad makes his transition to head coach much easier.

“I know most of the players relatively well and, having been here as long as I have, I know the strengths and weaknesses of Trinidad and Tobago football,” Fenwick told Trinidad and Tobago online news entity, Wired868.

According to Fenwick though, he cannot achieve success without support.

“I will try to tailor my plans to their strengths to bring quick success. I need support around me and I welcome the public’s support to help lift our football back to where it should be.”

Where the Soca Warriors should be and where they are, is a gargantuan distance as Fenwick’s predecessor, Dennis Lawrence, oversaw a period where the team won one of 15 games in the last calendar year, failing to take three points from a competitive fixture since a 2-1 win over the United States all the way back in October of 2017.

But Fenwick believes he has attributes that counteract that slide from grace.

“I’m organised, I’m structured and players know exactly what they have to do in my system,” he said.

“I’m also very flexible tactically and I’m able to change formations during matches and I’ve demonstrated that over the years. I demand plenty from my players.

“We might not have the Dwight Yorkes and Russell Latapys of yesteryear but we have still got lots of quality, particularly in terms of the defenders we have produced over the last 10 years.”

That quality will be called into question as early as March where Fenwick will have to lead the Soca Warriors into friendlies during the FIFA international window in a bid to get them ready for a CONCACAF Gold Cup playoff qualification tie against either Barbados or Guyana in June.

Former England defender, coach of Central FC and San Juan Jabloteh in the Trinidad and Tobago (T&T) Pro League, Terry Fenwick, has been named the head coach of the twin-island republic’s senior football team, the Soca Warriors.

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