Mon | Nov 12, 2018

Butler offers olive branch to JFF

Published:Tuesday | September 11, 2018 | 11:16 PMLivingston Scott

Phoenix Academy founder Craig Butler has signalled that there could soon be a thaw in his often icy relationship with the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF).
 
Butler and the JFF have been at loggerheads in recent years. The Phoenix Academy boss has consistently said he would not allow his sons and academy graduates, Bayer Leverkusen's world rated winger Leon Bailey and  Kyle Butler, turn out for the Jamaican team without him being in some capacity to contribute to the process.

  After a number of meetings ended in stalemate earlier this year, negotiations broke down and have been dormant since January.  
 

But the tough talking Butler, in an interview on Monday night, told The Gleaner that he is willing to soften his stance for the betterment of the country's football. However, he wants Minister of Sports, Olivia Grange, to act as a mediator between the parties.

"We have considered our country and how important it is to us and we have decided to make one last effort to reconcile with the JFF in the best interest of Jamaica," he said.

"The pressure for Leon Bailey and Kyle Butler to play for another country has increased but we are mindful and we will never forget where we are coming from.

"I believe God has put me in a position to help our country and countrymen get opportunities.  If the JFF is willing to sit with me and a mediator ... I am willing to consider letting go of the past and walk side by side with my countrymen to World Cup victory," he added.

Butler said the recent match against the Cayman Islands had  a big influence on his decision to try to resume talks with the federation.

"I went to the game versus Cayman and it hurt my heart to see the stands empty and to know if my sons were on the pitch it would be full. People would have joy and believe in our football again. So I cannot sit idly by and do nothing, while benefiting so much from the sport we love. I will never forget what the JFF did to the boys and myself ... but I can forgive as that makes me a better man in the interest of the country," he added.
Meanwhile, Butler insists Minister Grange would make the perfect mediator for his meeting with the JFF.

  "I want the minister of sports, if she is willing, to serve as mediator. She has supported both sides, and more than anyone, understands what it means to put the best interest of the country first. I have deep respect for Minister Grange. Now is the time to make it happen again," he concluded.