Wed | Jun 16, 2021

No so fast, Mr Ricketts!

Published:Saturday | March 17, 2018 | 12:00 AMAndre Lowe

National football boss Michael Ricketts may have scored an own goal after revealing his intention to ask Sports Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange for assistance in funding a new contract for senior team head coach Theodore Whitmore, ahead of a meeting this week.

Ricketts, the president of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF), in providing an update on the long-running contract situation with Whitmore, who has been working on the terms of a deal that expired last September, told The Gleaner that he will be requesting an increase in the federation's subvention from the Sports Development Foundation (SDF), which would then help to fund the coach's new contract.

"I have a meeting with the minister next week. I will speak with the minister to see what we can get from the subvention from the SDF and then we can talk with Whitmore [about a new deal]," Ricketts said in an earlier interview.

However, a source close to the Ministry of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport, while confirming that a meeting is scheduled to take place this week with Grange and Ricketts, told The Sunday Gleaner that there are concerns that the JFF has resigned itself to relying on securing additional public funds, as opposed to examining other options which the ministry will be bringing to the table during the discussions.

It is our understanding that Grange herself was left disappointed that Ricketts and his team had apparently not exhausted all options before taking a position to request additional subvention ahead of their meeting.




Our ministry insider underlined that while there is no aversion to providing available funding where absolutely necessary, Grange and her team - who apparently reached out to the JFF about the situation with Whitmore - are keen to temper expectations and are of the mindset that there are other options that can be engaged at this point.

Options, our source pointed out, included the FIFA Forward project, which provides up to US$500,000 ($63.7 million) per year for administrative and governance costs to each member association, as a part of a wider US$5 million ($636 million) subvention provided by the sport's global authority, over a five-year cycle.

"The focus will essentially be to mediate, put everyone together and see what is the best solution going forward," the source noted. "It is important to look at all options and how we can resolve the situation between the coach (Whitmore) and the JFF. We need a harmonious, well-organised federation or else the sport won't meet its potential."

The source, who could not speak officially, pointed to recent changes in the distribution of the CHASE Fund, while noting that this will play a role in how the ministry handles the numerous requests it continues to receive from sporting organisations.

Whitmore, a former midfield standout for Jamaica's World Cup '98 team, first led Jamaica in stints in 2007 and 2008 before leading the Reggae Boyz to the Caribbean Cup title in 2010.

He later qualified Jamaica to the Hexagonal Round of the 2012 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying campaign before resigning a year later.

In his latest run as head coach of the team, Whitmore led Jamaica to the Gold Cup Final in 2017 and oversaw the country's rise up the FIFA Rankings to its current position of 49; it's highest position since 2005, when it was ranked 42nd.