Trinidad and Tobago Football Association staff are begging ousted president William Wallace to abandon his fight for control of the TTFA’s bank accounts and allow them to get paid.
“Today, May 2nd, is the beginning of a 3rd month that the administrative staff has not received salaries. This also affects technical staff members—some that have not been paid in as much as six months,” staff members said in a letter sent on Saturday to Wallace.
“Members of staff have already begun to get calls from creditors,” they explained. “There are members of staff who are the sole bread-winner in their household.”
The concern for staff is that if control of the TTFA accounts is taken before the courts to be settled, they will have to endure further and extreme hardship because of the extended time they will have to go without income.
The staff letter comes after First Citizens Bank held its position that only court action or other resolution would alter its position to deny access to the Association’s accounts from both the exiled Wallace-led executive and a FIFA-appointed normalisation committee headed by local businessman Robert Hadad.
Through legal representatives, Wallace’s faction, in a pre-action protocol letter, gave an ultimatum that legal action would follow unless they regained access to the accounts by 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 30.
“They (First Citizens Bank) haven’t changed their position,” Wallace said yesterday, replying to a Trinidad Express enquiry.
“They responded last week by saying that neither party will be allowed to use the accounts. Neither the normalisation committee nor the TTFA, until their matter is settled.”
Contacted, TTFA general secretary Ramesh Ramdhan said he has been made aware of, but had not seen, the staff letter.
“I just got a call that such a letter is circulating,” Ramdhan admitted. “However, I know nothing of it.”
Checking his e-mail, Wallace said he had not received any such correspondence and that his position remained unchanged.
“We are sticking to our position. Our position is what it was when we took action. It hasn’t changed.”
Sent home since early March due to the COVID-19 outbreak, TTFA administrative staff have not received salary going into a third month. While accepting Wallace’s right to fight his political issues, staff are begging him to take a humanitarian view of their plight, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. Indicating a measure of fear of loss of employment, the letter is unsigned. Staff say they have never been granted the privilege of being solicited for an opinion.
“TTFA full time staff are currently employed and do not qualify for any of the government assistance programs and therefore, while other members of the general public do have an opportunity to access assistance, we do not,” the letter stated. “Members of staff have also been refused assistance through NIS because of non-payment of statutory deductions.”
The authors cautioned that the correspondence is not an attempt to make any sort of political statement or take sides in the ongoing dispute between Wallace and the normalisation committee, appointed on March 17 to run local football.
The deposed executive then appealed FIFA’s intervention before the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS). And with US$1.25 million in FIFA funding available immediately to Trinidad and Tobago, Wallace’ s group and their normalisation committee replacements are seeking control of the TTFA accounts at First Citizens Bank. With both parties claiming legitimacy, the bank made a decision restricting access to both.
The staff letter noted that while it is Wallace’s right to fight his executive’s removal through CAS, football has to go on.
“To cripple the secretariat through the continued dispute over the bank accounts even though you have, of your own rationale, conceded the secretariat can serve no useful purpose except jeopardise football and further put the staff under unnecessary stress during these difficult times,” the letter said.