Laurie Foster | Butler still needed
The new Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), led by another Clarendon man, is well past two months in office. There are several accusations as to improper administrative practices that can be successfully mounted.
It is accepted, as mentioned in an earlier column by Foster's Fairplay, that this is only an interim two-year sojourn as Michael Ricketts and his team have to look to the next elections to win their own mandate. That said, it seems that their agenda has that as the top priority item on which to work. The new president said just that to the St Catherine boss, Peter Reid, at a subsequent gathering. Reid did not support him at the polls, and Ricketts seemed to have been recruiting him for future service. Whether or not that is acceptable can be discussed, but the new group should not be haunted by it as there are other issues to be tackled to keep the fabric intact to maintain the structure of Jamaica's football. Failing that, the nation will be unforgiving as it watches while its most popular sport grinds to a halt.
There has been talk of the huge debt owed, in the most part to the Government and about which the JFF is planning to have discussions, with a view to having it forgiven or, at least, substantially discounted.
That is a commendable move in the right direction. It cannot, however, end there.as to ensure accountability for funds brought into the administration's coffers, improved fiscal prudence needs to be in place. The nation, in addition, must be kept abreast of the efforts to achieve all of this. The type of secrecy and holding these matters close to their chest should no longer be overlooked as this only limits public support.
The electorate for JFF elections is too small being confined to self-serving interests. This was instituted to protect the status quo on the voting floor and not the wider concerns of the sport. Others, primarily representing sponsors, who form a pivotal role in the administration, need to be brought in, not only for balance, but to ensure transparency.
Committees, although not yet confirmed, have been named to take care of other important aspects of the local game. The most encouraging aspect is the one to be led by former national player Andre Virtue to direct youth development. On their platform rests the future of the sport, and one hopes that the funding has been to make that a positive reality.
What is not looking good for the Federation, is the manner in which it has handled the Craig Butler situation regarding his son Leon Bailey's willingness and availability to represent Jamaica. There is considerable discomfort in areas of the nation with that matter as it does not seem likely to happen. There is far too much disagreement and denial to suggest otherwise.
As this column has previously urged, the JFF needs to come to its collective senses, sit down with Butler, and promote the harmony that could yield a positive outcome. This, from the conversation thus far, does not seem to be happening.
Jamaica needs Bailey, and a lot more from where he sprung, and the JFF must be made to understand that and not be seen to pay scant regard to the man who has made the 20-year-old Bundesliga player what he has now become. This could well be the key to the present JFF's future and it will be well advised to address it and to do so quickly.
There is infinitely more to gain from pro-Butler action than would Butler and his charges lose by looking the other way.
Come on, JFF!. Just do it!