Was Cap­tain, JFF fouled by Danny Beck­ford?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION & COMMENTARY - Orville Higgins Orville Higgins is a sports­caster and talk-show host on KLAS ESPN Sports FM. Email feed­back to col­umns@glean­erjm.com.

WITH ALL the bash­ing it has re­ceived lately, this is one fight the Ja­maica Foot­ball Fed­er­a­tion (JFF) didn’t need. The JFF board has now locked horns with Danny Beck­ford, the out­spo­ken pres­i­dent of the St Ann Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Danny has been sus­pended from all foot­ball-re­lated ac­tiv­i­ties for six months for re­fus­ing to apol­o­gise for that no-holds-barred let­ter he wrote to Cap­tain Ho­race Bur­rell and copied to the board a few weeks ago. This isn’t the end of the mat­ter.

It’s un­like Danny Beck­ford to take this ly­ing down, and one sus­pects that Cap­tain Bur­rell and his board will dig in their heels and do what­ever they can to keep Danny away from the in­ner sanc­tums of the JFF hi­er­ar­chy for the pre­scribed pe­riod.

Make no bones about it: It can’t be easy for Bur­rell and his board to feel com­fort­able sit­ting with Danny in a board meet­ing af­ter that ad­ver­sar­ial let­ter that found its way into the pages of The Gleaner on Oc­to­ber 24.

The let­ter was scathing against Bur­rell and the gen­eral sec­re­tary: “The first move is for you, as pres­i­dent and your gen­eral sec­re­tary, to leave the foot­ball ad­min­is­tra­tion ASAP so that the proper way for ad­min­is­ter­ing our foot­ball can now move prop­erly apace ... . ”


The rest of the board did not es­cape Danny’s wrath. He felt the board mem­bers were there mainly to rub­ber­stamp Bur­rell’s de­ci­sions and were com­plicit in his di­vide-and-rule tac­tics.

Th­ese are strong words, of­fen­sive words, even, and it’s dif­fi­cult to see how Danny and the rest of the board can sit cor­dially around a ta­ble to dis­cuss any­thing. Were I a mem­ber of the board, I couldn’t see how I could have a pro­fes­sional re­la­tion­ship with some­one who thinks so lit­tle of me.

If I were to have ad­vised the JFF, I would have told them not to go this route. I would have sent out a let­ter to the press, re­spond­ing to ev­ery ac­cu­sa­tion made by Beck­ford. I would also ques­tion the fact that Danny had

con­tin­ued to al­low the St Ann Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion to be spon­sored by the very man who he now felt was so bad for foot­ball. The Cap­tain’s Bak­ery was spon­sor­ing the St Ann FA for a long time, up to about two years ago. The as­sump­tion must be that for all those years, Danny was sat­is­fied enough with the Cap­tain to con­tinue ac­cept­ing his money. If I were the pres­i­dent of the JFF, I would ask if there isn’t some strange co­in­ci­dence that Danny’s caus­tic let­ter came only af­ter the Cap­tain had ceased spon­sor­ship to the St Ann Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

Another is­sue that can­not be over­looked is the fact that the Phoenix Foot­ball Club, owned by Craig But­ler, is now a ma­jor spon­sor to the St Ann FA. The JFF should have taken the op­por­tu­nity to spec­u­late pub­licly whether Craig, who is a known an­tiBur­rell man in re­cent times, had any in­flu­ence on Danny’s ac­tions. The JFF has a lot of rea­sons to won­der about the sin­cer­ity and cred­i­bil­ity about Danny’s let­ter and should have fought the bat­tle along those lines.

De­spite this, the board may have just over­stepped its bound­aries. I am not con­vinced that Danny Beck­ford should have been sus­pended, given the facts be­fore us. The let­ter was vitri­olic, even rude, but it was sup­posed to be a pri­vate let­ter to the pres­i­dent and his board. I am not sure what FIFA or JFF statute pre­vents a man from writ­ing a pri­vate let­ter to his col­leagues.

Danny told me per­son­ally that he

has asked the JFF to pro­vide him with the statutes or by-laws he has bro­ken. Up to the time of his sus­pen­sion, he said he had not re­ceived any point-by­point ex­pla­na­tion.


I my­self have spo­ken to high­rank­ing board mem­bers, and based on what was quoted to me, I am not con­vinced that there is an iron-clad case against Danny Beck­ford.

There is talk from the JFF that he has brought the JFF into dis­re­pute. That, how­ever, is de­bat­able. It can­not be proven that Danny had any­thing to do with the let­ter be­ing leaked to The Gleaner. Un­less they have con­crete ev­i­dence that he did, I don’t see how those charges can stick.

Danny, of course, might ap­peal, and where that will go is any­body’s guess. Who will he ap­peal to if, in fact, he does? What is the like­li­hood that any such body will over­turn what the board has done?

This lat­est brouhaha is not mak­ing Danny look bad at all. Pub­lic sen­ti­ment is on his side. Cap­tain Bur­rell has taken a lot of flak in re­cent times. This won’t help.

The one thing in Bur­rell’s favour is that it is clear that it is his en­tire board who is in on this, as op­posed to him only.


Ho­race Bur­rell, JFF pres­i­dent.

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