JFF won't break bank - Ricketts vows to avoid past mistakes in signing new head coach
Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) President Michael Ricketts said that the association will not be spending above its means to offer national coaches Theodore Whitmore and his assistant Jerome Waite new contracts to coach the senior men's team.
Whitmore, Waite and the JFF are reportedly at an impasse regarding their prospective salaries and clauses suggested in their respective contracts. This has caused speculation about who will take charge of the team on this week's trip to Turkey for their friendly matches against Romanian club CS Gaz Metan Medias on Saturday, then South Korea next Tuesday. However, Ricketts told The Gleaner that despite not signing a new deal, Whitmore will be making the trip.
"As far as I know, Whitmore will be the coach on tour," he said. "(Donovan) Duckie will be travelling as assistant in the absence of Jerome Waite, who will be heading to Trinidad with Arnett Gardens (for the Caribbean Football Union Club Championship). We're trying to expose as many young coaches as possible, so we're giving Duckie a chance, based on a discussion with Whitmore."
Ricketts, who refused to discuss the terms of the contract on offer to Whitmore and Waite, said that the JFF is carrying out his mandate of careful spending and will not be making what he describes as "mistakes," like the previous administration, which created a large debt.
"It makes no sense and it's going to hurt the reputation of the federation," Ricketts said. "We just have to be forthright and frank in whatever we do. The JFF made a huge mistake when (former head coach Winfried) Schafer was hired. That is hurting the football right now. Because of Schafer's fees, the JFF is still in debt."
The JFF had found itself in a legal battle with the German, after terminating his contract in September 2016, as it had still owed him three months salary. This contract was estimated to be worth around US$45,000 per month.
"I really don't want to go back down that route. I want to be very prudent in our expenses and, believe me, we will not make an offer that we cannot pay, to a coach," the president said.
Ricketts said that although the JFF cannot afford to offer a salary to Whitmore or another coach, similar to what Schafer had been given, it is not unrealistic that it could still attract a top coach to prepare the team at a high standard.
"I would think (it's possible)," he shared. "If not locally, there are coaches overseas. I have received applications, but I want to work with Whitmore. Whitmore is, potentially, one of our better coaches.
"We'll have further discussions, Whitmore and myself. I want to personally sit down with him because I want Whitmore to be our coach, and it is up to us to sit with him and determine what his issues are and how best to have them corrected. He has not indicated to me that he doesn't want to coach (the national team), but Whitmore is somebody that is not going to talk a lot. So you just need to sit down with him and work it out. Hopefully, we'll do that in short order."
Ricketts, the rest of his 12-man technical staff and the 20 member playing squad leave the island at 1:30 this afternoon for Turkey.