Government Reclaims Stadium From LFA For Failing to Honor MOU


Monrovia – Government has reached a decision to nullify a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the Liberia Football Association (LFA) to reclaim the Antoinette Tubman Stadium (ATS).

Report by Danesius Marteh, [email protected]

According to a January 30 letter written by acting sportsMinister Nancy Freeman to LFA president Musa Bility, the MOU and license to operate will be officially withdrawn effective February 15.

Dr. Freeman, Deputy  Minister for Administration, said the reason for withdrawal is largely due to the failure of the LFA to manage the facility in keeping with the spirit and intent of the MOU signed between the government, represented by the sports ministry and the LFA, which expired since July 15, 2014.

Article two, sections 2.1, 2.2, 2.3 and 2.4 of the MOU, signed on July 15, 2010, permits the LFA to manage, control and operate the ATS, which is owned by the government.

“In its managerial control, the LFA shall be responsible for the general maintenance, repairs and upkeep of the ATS, at no cost to the ministry.

The LFA shall seek the approval of the ministry in the event it intends to make structural changes to the ATS and 15 percent of the revenues generated from the ATS shall be used by the LFA for youth football development programs to be approved by the ministry,” Freeman quoted the MOU.

Unfortunately, she said, the LFA has failed to live by the terms and conditions of the MOU, thus compelling the ministry to withdraw the permit.

A technical working group, headed by Assistant Sports Minister Murvee Gray, has been constituted to work with the LFA to lead the process of transferring the ATS to government. 

Nancy’s letter was copied to President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Justice Minister Frederick Cherue, Information Minister Lenn Eugene Nagbe and Presidential Affairs Minister Sylvester Grisby.

Turning point

FrontPageAfrica understands that the decision to pull the rug from under the LFA on the ATS came from President Sirleaf, who had gone to watch the grand finale of the 2016/2017 national county sports meet between Maryland and Montserrado County on January 15 but had to unwillingly leave due to poor visibility. 

There are no proper floodlights at the ATS to facilitate games at night despite five renovations in three years and Vice President Joseph Boakai may have unwillingly stayed to present Montserrado their first trophy in 60 years after a 3-1 win on penalties.

“We regret the situation about the lights. We’ve also put in for headlights for night games from Germany.’

“That consignment is due in the country shortly,” LFA executive committee member Ansu Dulleh, who is also competitions committee chairman, told Weekend Sports on Fabric 101.1FM on January 21.

But New Dawn sports reporter Sally Gaye dismissed Dulleh’s information and recalled that a similar promise was made when the Grand Bassa versus Nimba 2015/2016 national county sports meet quarter-final match was called-off by center referee Sam Kortie on January 5 for poor visibility and the remaining 30 minutes rescheduled for January 6. 

Pres. Sirleaf may have also been briefed about the unsanitary conditions of the bath rooms and the poor state of the ATS. 

Neither the LFA nor the sports ministry has been willing to comment on the letter.

Five renovations in two years

The ATS was first renovated under Bility in October 2010 from a Fifa funding.

But Fifa development officer for West Africa Sampson Kablan told reporters the delay in renovating the ATS after the release of a US$400,000 grant for the project sent a wrong signal about football development in Liberia.

Kablan threatened that Fifa would not do business with the LFA in the future if the ATS wasn’t renovated.

Then LFA communications director Henry Flomo blamed the company (of Dustan McCauley—peace to his ashes) hired to execute the project.

Since then, there have been five renovations in two years with executive committee members Ansu Dulleh, also known as ‘LFA Prime Minister’, Wallace Weiah and then deputy secretary-general Michael Saye Gilayeneh overseeing one apiece. 

The fifth renovation began in March as Liberia were preparing to host Tunisia in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and Guinea Bissau in the first leg 2018 World Cup qualifier.

“Don’t you see the need? The place is dilapidated. Because of Ebola, nobody went in there to play for almost nine months. So everything is broken down. I think you can see it.

“In fact, as a matter of fact, the government of Liberia had even threatened to take the ATS from us if we didn’t renovate it. Didn’t you see that all of the seats in the VIP were broken?

“Didn’t you see the threat to the lives of people in the stadium, where we had to close a whole section of the stadium because the steels that were there were posing danger?

Didn’t you see that? Didn’t you see that we didn’t have a scoreboard? We fixed those things. There are humans coming in and out,” said Bility in an exclusive interview at his Srimex office on Capitol ByPass on July 14, 2015.

An October 3, 2015 torrential rainfall, marred by heavy storm, jeopardized that renovation.

It left the VIP and around VIP sections, including the conference room, in a pool of water thereby casting doubt over the suitability of holding spectators with the stadium wings uncovered.

The roof of the Nicom building also collapsed as Bility and some executive committee members, who had just completed an extraordinary session at the PA’s Rib house, toured the ATS. 

The Musons Group Incorporated (MGI), located in the Rose Garden Plaza, were renovating the ATS at a cost of US$500,000 without any bidding in violation of the threshold set by the Public Procurement and Concession Commission’s Regulation #003 on the schedule of thresholds.

But MGI chief executive officer and President Joe Mulbah (no relation to deceased University of Liberia mass communications department chairman Joe Mulbah) told FrontPageAfrica that it would have required at least US$1 million to renovate the ATS to internationally-accepted standard approved by Fifa.

Mulbah, however, failed to give a copy of the contract to our reporter, referring him to Bility, who also referred him to MGI for all and any inquiries relating to the renovation.

MGI’s contract was terminated with the LFA and Bility ordered LFA deputy security committee chairman Victor Gboyah to arrest and detain his then chief of office staff, Prince Forfor, who allegedly collected and sold scraps, to but Forfor was saved by Flomo (the beginning to the end of Flomo’s LFA tenure). 

But there are still debris in the rooms that hosted the offices of the president and his two vice presidents at the ATS.

The rooms that hosted the secretary-general and staff members were recently renovated to make way for the competitions committee. 

A stockpile of dirt at the ATS, attributed to the county meet, remains closed to the gate opposite the Ministry of Public Works as we went to press.

With the Samuel Kanyon Doe still undergoing renovation, the ATS remains the biggest place for most public events and the United Methodist United reportedly paid US$5,000 for their commencement program on January 31.

Alexander Cummings and his Alternative National Congress, who held their first major introductory rally at the ATS on January 27, may have paid more.