The aggrieved Trinidad and Tobago 2006 World Cup football players received a boost to their bonus battle with the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) yesterday, when they were informed that their former employers received in excess of TT$173 million for their part in the prestigious tournament in Germany.
The financial disclosure was made by the Trinidad and Tobago government after a request by the players' England-based legal representatives, Bates, Wells and Brathwaite London LLP Solicitors, on August 22, 2007, in accordance with the Freedom of Information Act.
The details provided to the London-based legal team, according to a fax from Ministry of Sports and Youth Affairs legal adviser Brent Williams, were extracted from "Cabinet documents and other Governmental and Non-Governmental donors to the TTFF".
In addition to the $173,690,113.50 received by the T&TFF from the public and private sectors, the government also gave the "Soca Warriors" and national technical staff a $32 million bonus. The figure also excludes gate receipts from World Cup qualifying and friendly matches and broadcast rights, including television revenue from games against Iceland, Peru, Wales, Slovenia and the Czech Republic.
It is in stark contrast to the declared income of $18,255,952-nearly $156 million less-which T&TFF general secretary Richard Groden presented to the players last October.
The T&TFF also claimed expenses of $17,973,749, which left just $282,203 in revenue. The players were told their pre-World Cup deal entitled them to half that figure or $141,102-a split of $5,644.08 per player with an equal share for injured player Silvio Spann and the Football Players Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FPATT).
After the players rejected this figure, the T&TFF "revised" their calculations and came up with a net profit of $950,403.49, which, they claimed, waived investment in the South Africa 2010 campaign.
The players were offered half of this figure or $475,201.75, which equated to $19,008.07 per player. The second T&TFF offer was also refused by the Warriors.
The T&TFF statement of income and expenditure was audited by Kenny Rampersad and Company, a long standing partner of the local football body. Kenny Rampersad was once authorised to represent Simpaul Travel while the company was owned by FIFA vice-president Jack Warner and his family.
Warner, who is a special adviser to the T&TFF, brokered the controversial pre-World Cup deal with the Warriors and repeatedly criticised the players for refusing to accept the T&TFF's unaudited statement.
But the players' lead counsel, Englishman Michael Townley, believes that the new financial details, faxed by Williams, are a massive plus to their case.
"We have never been able to work out exactly what the income was (from the World Cup) and we now have figures so that we can actually work out the players' entitlement," Townley told the Express. "It is a huge gap that (FIFA vice-president Jack Warner) will have to explain.
"It also helps our case because the T&TFF incurred various costs around the way which we didn't accept but, even if we did, now we find out that the costs were covered along the way by the government."
Oliver Camps, the T&TFF president, could not explain the vast difference between the two financial statements. He was driving when contacted by the Express and, he explained, could not concentrate on figures at the time.
He did not feel he could help if the Express contacted him later either.
"I would prefer if you call (T&TFF general secretary) Richard Groden, who should have all that information," said Camps, who has led the local body for over a decade.
Groden was not at the T&TFF headquarters when the Express called and the staff were not certain when he would return.
The revised World Cup revenue sheet, if accepted as fact, means that the 16 World Cup players who challenged their masters could be due at least $6,947,604.54 each for their participation in Germany. This figure should rise based on television revenue and gate receipts.
The T&TFF blacklisted the players after they threatened legal action last October and refused to allow them to represent their country. The banned Warriors include Sunderland striker Kenwyne Jones, Southampton striker and record national scorer Stern John, Gillingham goalkeeper Kelvin Jack, new Vibe CT 105 W Connection midfielder Aurtis Whitley and the CL Financial San Juan Jabloteh duo of attacker Cornell Glen and full back Cyd Gray.
Townley travels to Trinidad next week for a court hearing on Friday, September 21, regarding the bonus dispute. The T&TFF are recommending that the matter be referred to arbitration but the players will resist.
"(The T&TFF) want the case to go to arbitration rather than court although, on October 24, 2006, we asked if there was an arbitration process and they never answered. We go to court and they then say there is an arbitration process and want to strike it out of civil court," Townley said.
The London lawyer is not against using "a robust, independent arbitration body like CAS (Switzerland-based Court of Arbitration for Sport) but is wary of any arbitration machinery recommended by the T&TFF.
"We are not going to stop (our court action) just because they don't like it, said Townley.
"I feel very confident that we will succeed next Friday and the case will not be taken out of the civil court.
"The players have been saying for months that they are owed a significant amount of money and that there needs to be transparency in the process. I think the disclosure from the government agency vindicates this and also is a further blow to the credibility of the T&TFF."