Lease agreement for FIFA Forward Programme land finally approved

— Work to commence at month end

Guyana Football Federation (GFF) president Wayne Forde, second from right, receives the signed Memorandum of Understanding from Eccles/Ramsburg NDC chairman Mahamad Hafeez. (Photo courtesy of the GFF)

A lease agreement on land identified for Guyana’s Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) Forward Programme has finally been approved paving the way for the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) to finally acquire its own Training facility.

According to a statement from the GFF, the lease agreement for the land at Providence, East Bank Demerara, identified for the project had no “legal standing.”

In 2015, the Clinton Urling-led Normalisation Committee had brokered a 30-year lease agreement with the Eccles/Ramsburg Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) for the Providence Community Centre ground.

That lease agreement the GFF release stated was later found out to have no legal standing.

However, the release stated, the GFF was able to get the matter rectified.

“When the Wayne Forde-led Executive Committee took stewardship of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF) following the Normalization Committee (NC), it was the general feeling that that the groundwork to activate the construction of the Centre was established. However, this was far from reality. It was discovered that the lease for the land identified had no legal standing and in fact, necessitated several rounds of negotiation by the GFF and the involvement of the Honorable Minister of Communities on May 16, 2017 to finalize,” the release from the GFF stated.

Now, following confirmation of the lease agreement and the subsequent approval by FIFA earlier this year, the project is expected to commence at month end.

The project will be the first state of the art sporting facility on local shores.

It is expected to produce consistent levels of competitive football as Guyana aims to be competitive on the international circuit. Construction of the artificial turf will be done by Greenfields, a Dutch manufacturer of artificial turf, in phases.

This process is scheduled to be completed in the latter stages of January 2018. Subsequent to the completion of the surface, the accompanying amenities will be assembled.

The issue with the lease agreement for the land this resulted in several delays that affected the start of the project since FIFA’s final approval could only occur following the confirmation of all the related documents, stated the GFF.

Funding blocked

“It is no secret that the NC under Clinton Urling, during their relatively short tenure, received FIFA funding totaling almost (US$1M) which enabled them to discharge their mandate. It is also no secret that following a FIFA audit of the 2015 accounts which was conducted by Price WaterhouseCoopers (PwC) following the departure of the NC, countless red flags were raised.

“This resulted in FIFA formally informing the Wayne Forde-led Executive Committee on October 10, 2016 of the decision of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee to “block funding to the Football Federation of Guyana,” the document added.

According to the GFF statement, the decision of the Audit and Compliance Committee resulted in the GFF having no access to the necessary funds to finance its operations and support the development of its membership.

“Additionally, this also meant that the GFF was unable to access and benefit from the increase Forward funding programme. To date, this situation has had an extremely negative effect on the operations of the GFF which has severely affected the institution’s relationship with its members and suppliers. Over the past months, the Executive Committee has undertaken a complete overall of the institution’s financial operation, resulting in major systems and personnel changes,” the GFF release stated.

“Consequently, the GFF has been approved for “conditional funding” targeting essential operations and preapproved projects and programmes. However, the Executive Committee is working assiduously to streamline every aspect of its finance operation and internal procedures in order to meet and exceed the conditions laid out by FIFA’s Audit and Compliance Commit-tee,” stated the release.

The Forward Project will be the first of nine all-weather facilities to be constructed in each regional member association and will be accessible to all teams for training.

The venues will be equipped with female amenities to encourage greater female participation and will also house the headquarters of the GFF.

In an invited comment, President of the Guyana Football Federation (GFF), Wayne Forde, said “It is our solemn goal to truly restore the integrity and reputation of football in Guyana and across the globe.”

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