The Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation has secured the use of the Hasely Crawford Stadium for the Trinidad and Tobago versus England friendly international on Sunday June 1, 2008 by High Court Action on terms which were previously agreed.
No new terms have been imposed by the facility owners.
The TTFF is pleased to announce that it has unhindered access to the Stadium and the game will go on as planned.
Late Evening Court Sitting
The international friendly between T&T and England will be played on June 1 at the Hasely Crawford Stadium after all.
Agreement was reached at 7.38 last night, after the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (TTFF) took Minister of Sport Gary Hunt to court for trying to impose a new lease agreement on the TTFF for the use of the stadium, just two weeks before the scheduled match.
The new agreement threatened to prohibit alcohol and tobacco advertising, which, according to the TTFF, had already been negotiated with sponsors and the English Football Association (FA).
The England team had already been announced and 70 British journalists have been accredited, along with another 80 from the Caribbean and the Americas.
A meeting between the TTFF and Hunt last Wednesday at the Ministry of Sport failed to resolve the dispute, which was reported in the major newspapers in Britain the following day.
It was agreed that further talks would take place yesterday.
But Om Lalla, attorney for the TTFF, dispatched a letter to Hunt yesterday morning, seeking a resolution.
Lalla gave the Minister until midday yesterday to resolve the matter, or be taken to court.
When no reply was received by 4 pm, the TTFF went to the Port-of-Spain High Court, seeking judicial review of the decisions taken in the new agreement.
The matter was called before Justice Carol Gobin at 5.42 pm.
Lalla and Kelvin Ramkissoon appeared for the TTFF, while Senior State attorney Neil Byam represented the Minister of Sport.
From the outset, Gobin wanted to know if a resolution could not be reached without the court embarking on a full hearing.
Gobin took notice of a letter dated May 23, written by Simon Johnson, Director of Corporate Affairs of the English FA, threatening legal action for breach of contract with the TTFF if the match was cancelled.
In a strongly-worded letter, Johnson gave the TTFF until 9 am today to decide if the match was going to be played.
England players, their security teams, and journalists, were left wondering if the match would be played at all.
That letter was uppermost in the mind of the judge as she pointed out the urgency of the matter before her. She was prepared to sit and decide the matter, even if it meant continuing the hearing into this morning.
She stood the case down for half an hour, by which time Elton Prescott SC arrived to lead the team on behalf of the Minister.
The judge exercised extreme patience as she left the courtroom on five occasions to facilitate negotiations between the parties.
During one of the breaks, Prescott spoke with the Minister by cell phone.
Eventually, and to the relief of both sides, there was agreement.
Prescott returned to the court and announced that the TTFF would pay to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Sport, $150,000 for the rental of the stadium for the June 1 match.
The issue of ten percent of gate receipts did not arise as the Minister of Sport had abandoned that idea since Wednesday.
The $150,000 is to be paid by 4 pm on May 27. The TTFF will be able to use the electronic scoreboard at the stadium free of charge for posting of the score. But advertisers will have to pay a fee for the use of the scoreboard.
Prescott said his client would do nothing to prevent the match from being played.
The items which the Ministry of Sport requested in the new lease agreement have fallen by the wayside: the $45,000 deposit in the event of damage; 100 VVIP tickets for the Ministry of Sport; $5,000 plus VAT concession fee; $10,000 for each of the 32 billboards on the perimeter of the field; $5,000 for secondary billboards outside the stadium; $1,000 for a letter to apply for the liquor licence; and $2,000 for each media booth.
When the agreement was reached, Gobin said she was happy that the parties approached the matter in a conciliatory manner. She said it was a pity that the case had to reach to court before an agreement was
In court for the consent order were Richard Groden, general secretary of the TTFF, and Shaun Fuentes, media officer.(Francis Joseph, Guardian)
Game Will go On
"The game will go on."
This was the assurance given by attorneys for both the Trinidad and Tobago Football Federation (T&TFF) and the Ministry of Sport yesterday, following a special High Court sitting at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.
The matter, which came up before Justice Carol Gobin, lasted less than two hours, as attorneys for both parties arrived at a settlement over the historic June 1 international friendly between England and Trinidad and Tobago at the Hasely Crawford Stadium.
The agreement came around 8.10 p.m., when the T&TFF agreed to pay the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Sport and Youth Affairs a flat fee of $150,000 for full use of the stadium from May 29 to June 1.
The agreement also noted that the deadline for payment be made on or before May 27 at 4 p.m.
Another condition agreed upon was the use of a digital scoreboard, which will be subject to a fee to advertisers, but free for advertising motivational messages. The figure to compensate for the use of the scoreboard is to be agreed upon, following the completion of the match, in a subsequent court hearing.
Commenting on the agreement, Justice Gobin said: "It is a pity that things had to reach here. This could have been settled outside of court."
Lawyers for both sides-Om Lalla representing the T&TFF and Elton Prescott SC for the Ministry-commended each other on reaching an amicable resolution.
Speaking with reporters following the ruling, Lalla said: "We are happy that the matter has been resolved because of good counsel on both sides and now the people of Trinidad and Tobago could benefit from the upcoming game."
And following the adjournment of Parliament last night, Minister of Sport Gary Hunt said his Ministry was always on "amicable footing".
"We always wanted the match to take place," Hunt said, adding the Ministry would concede the rights for advertising and alcohol to the T&TFF.
He also expressed hope that the T&TFF would use the extra income earned from the concession of those rights to develop young footballers in the country.
After Hunt tried to secure a photo opportunity, T&TFF adviser Jack Warner, who also holds the post of FIFA vice-president, berated the Minister in front of the media.
"You have failed as a Minister of Sport. You are the worst Minister of Sport ever," Warner thundered.
Yesterday's mutual agreement came on the heels of a row between the Ministry of Sport and the T&TFF over rental fees for the use of the stadium.
The T&TFF claimed in an injunction filed in the High Court that the Ministry breached its initial contractual obligations in a March 15, 2008, agreement, by offering the Federation a revised agreement on May 15. (Trinidad Express)