FIFA's Normalisation Committee will return as the managers of local football.
This after the Court of Appeal judges, Chief Justice Ivor Archie and Appellate Judge Nolan Bereaux on Friday overturned the ruling by High Court Judge Carol Gobin last Tuesday, thereby throwing the future of United T&T Football Association (TTFA) president William Wallace and his vice presidents Clynt Taylor and Joseph Sam Phillip into limbo.
The lawsuit, brought by embattled TTFA president William Wallace and his United TTFA executive team, which also included vice president Susan Joseph-Warrick before she resigned the post on September 25, contravened the TTFA's Constitution, which prescribes that all disputes between the TTFA and FIFA should be dealt with by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), the Appellate judges concluded.
The Appeal Court has also ordered the cash-strapped TTFA to pay the legal cost of FIFA also.
The ruling has also put in doubt Sunday's Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) called to decide on the future of the sport in T&T, following a suspension by the FIFA and a demand by the sport's world governing body to get the TTFA Statutes in line with theirs if the suspension is to be lifted.
The decision yesterday stems from a move by the FIFA on March 17 to appoint a Normalisation Committee to replace the TTFA on the basis that local football face a possibility of becoming insolvent, with no means of clearing huge debt that crippled the TTFA under Wallace and his team.
TTFA challenged the decision, by first going to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Switzerland in May. They then withdrew the matter and filed it in the T&T High Court in Port-of Spain, a decision that violated FIFA's Statutes.
Wallace, who, in a newspaper report on Friday, said he was not ruling out considering going to the Privy Council, told Guardian Media Sports soon after that the court has ruled and they will respect the ruling of the court. However, quizzed on whether he was any closer to deciding if an appeal will be filed, he said: "This is final for me. This is final for me."
The embattled football association president who guided the Secondary Schools Football League to its highest point of sponsorships, development and marketability, said based on the ruling he was unsure if Sunday's crucial meeting will come off, noting that he will have to seek legal advice before offering a response to that.
Coincidentally, one of Wallace and the TTFA's Attorneys, Matthew Gayle said he will wait to see if his client wants to pursue anything further.
"I will have to look at the ruling to see what our next position will be and what the TTFA wants to do. I will have to reach out to the TTFA. It appears to be a binary ruling but it can be multi-dimensional," Gayle said.
Wallace, whose consideration of an appeal was hinted by members of the international football fraternity, said he took comfort that their concerns were heard under Justice Gobin.
"As far as I am concerned, Justice Gobin's ruling will always be very important to me, whether it was struck out based on the matters heard before, or based on jurisdiction, it was heard, fate allowed that, and there was enough in that for me. I am happy with that so now we move on," said Wallace.
Known constitutional expert Osmond Downer and Eastern Football Association (EFA) president Kieron Edwards gave different accounts on why tomorrow's meeting can go on as planned.
According to Downer, when a court rules it gives the other party time to appeal.
"This, I have to find out more about, if FIFA's Attorneys intend to lodge an appeal, or if in the ruling a timeframe was given for an appeal. During this timeframe, the TTFA members will still be considered the legal officers, which means Sunday's crucial EGM will be held."
Downer, one of the men who drafted the Constitution of the TTFA, believes tomorrow's meeting has crucial significance in deciding whether any court matter against FIFA will be dropped.
The United TTFA, which was recently reduced by three members also following the resignations of the group's key founder Keith Look Loy, who held the position of Chairman of the Technical Committee and former Northern Football Association president Anthony Harford, currently has two matters against FIFA in the CAS.
One, a challenge against FIFA's suspension on September 24 and the other an Injunctive Relief which was filed to ensure the country took part in the CONCACAF Gold Cup.
TTFA, on September 25, was given an ultimatum by CONCACAF to settle the court matter with the FIFA by December 18 or be left out of the Gold Cup. As it is, however, the country was allowed to be part of the Gold Cup draw on September 28, which saw it draw Montserrat in the preliminary round of the tournament next year.
Edwards, the author of 19 questions to be posed to Wallace at tomorrow's EGM, said the meeting was constitutionally called and therefore will go on as planned.
"It is a meeting of the general membership, a body of people that will exist whether the normalisation committee is here or not. It was called by the Board of the TTFA before the ruling, so it is legitimate," said the EFA boss, adding that it is important that Wallace and the TTFA are blocked from going to the Privy Council and all court matters that currently exist against FIFA are dropped.