Bury­ing the Butler-JFF spat

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY -

ATICK un­der five years ago, De­cem­ber 9, 2011, I wrote a piece in The Gleaner ti­tled ‘The But­lerSpeid spat’. The ar­ti­cle chron­i­cled the back­ground of the stand-off be­tween Craig Butler and one-time KSAFA pres­i­dent Ru­dolph Speid.

I wrote then: “The long-stand­ing bat­tle started way back in 2007. Butler was then fight­ing for the right to get Stony Hill in­volved in KSAFA com­pe­ti­tions ... . At that point, one Livingston Payne came into the pic­ture and claimed that he was, in­deed, the right­ful owner of the Stony Hill fran­chise ... . Butler went to court af­ter KSAFA ad­vised that both men share joint lead­er­ship un­til the mat­ter was sorted out.”

This, then, was the start of the KSAFABut­ler stand-off. We, how­ever, pick up from my five-year-old Gleaner ar­ti­cle. “Butler wasn’t happy and car­ried KSAFA to court. As I un­der­stand it, the court was sym­pa­thetic to Mr Butler’s story, felt he had a case, and had set another date for the mat­ter to be set­tled.”

“FIFA had, by now, re­alised what was go­ing on and had con­tacted the Ja­maica Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion to get in­volved. Af­ter the JFF met with KSAFA, the de­ci­sion was taken that Butler must pay the ul­ti­mate price. KSAFA stuck with a FIFA man­date that if you carry an af­fil­i­ate to court, you shall be banned, a fact that Craig told me he wasn’t aware of at the time he took the ac­tion . ... With the Stony Hill fran­chise a sore is­sue, and with his in­def­i­nite ban in place, Craig took his play­ers all over the Cor­po­rate Area with what he was now call­ing the Phoenix All Stars foot­ball team. Butler then left for Aus­tria with a mis­sion to find

new op­por­tu­ni­ties to get his boys into pro­fes­sional foot­ball . ... All that is great, but KSAFA, while ac­knowl­edg­ing Butler’s role in pro­mot­ing these young­sters, is con­vinced that he just doesn’t play by the rules.”

So that’s the back­ground to the cur­rent dis­pute be­tween Craig Butler and the JFF. While the orig­i­nal bat­tle was with the Ste­wart Stephen­son-led KSAFA, Butler is con­vinced that the JFF could have done more to set­tle the row. He is still ran­kled by what he feels was un­fair treat­ment by both the JFF and KSAFA. Butler may well have a point.


His in­def­i­nite ban was lifted three years ago, and Butler could well feel that if his sus­pen­sion could be lifted as ar­bi­trar­ily as it was, it never had to be ad­min­is­tered in the first place. So he is a man who is clearly walk­ing around with a huge chip on his shoul­der as it re­lates to the gov­ern­ing body for foot­ball here. Very few would blame him. A decade or so af­ter the dis­pute with the JFF and KSAFA, Butler’s ef­forts have pro­duced a gem. Leon Bai­ley is one of the hottest young ballers in all of Europe, and now, the JFF wants to do ev­ery­thing to get him to play for the Reg­gae Boyz. Butler now, though, won’t have it. Not that easy. Like Shy­lock in Shakespeare’s Mer­chant of Venice, he wants his pound of flesh. He re­alises that he holds the trump card: He is Leon’s agent and fa­ther, and he is not pre­pared for the JFF to for­get that. So Butler wants con­di­tions from the JFF if Leon is go­ing to


play. He wants to know the JFF’s struc­ture. He wants to know for­ma­tion. He wants to know what their plans are for young play­ers in the fu­ture. He has stopped short of ask­ing where they play all their games and what num­ber Leon will wear! Butler is now flex­ing his mus­cles at the JFF.

It’s un­der­stand­able. Many of us, given the same sit­u­a­tion, would prob­a­bly re­act sim­i­larly. It’s hu­man na­ture for us to want to lash out at those who have hurt us and caused us harm.

Butler in­sists that he must be present to ne­go­ti­ate the terms on which Bai­ley could play for Ja­maica, but the JFF might not be will­ing to grant him that ac­cess. Some­thing has to give.

I would think that Bur­rell and the JFF should meet him half­way. Not be­cause of his un­usual and, in my opin­ion, un­fair re­quests, but to soothe a man who felt he was clearly wronged. As I wrote in my ar­ti­cle five years ago, “KSAFA (make that JFF now) should try to work with this man rather than against him.”

Orville Hig­gins is a sports­caster and talk-show host at KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

Ja­maica’s Leon Bai­ley of Genk cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing dur­ing the Europa League group stage be­tween Genk and Sas­suolo at the Cristal Arena in Genk, Bel­gium, on Septem­ber 29.


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