Sunday 9 August, 2020

Craig Butler hits back at Leon Bailey criticism over selection demands

Craig Butler (centre) with Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler (via Facebook)

Craig Butler (centre) with Leon Bailey (left) and Kyle Butler (via Facebook)

Craig Butler, the agent/manager of Jamaican starlet Leon Bailey, has responded to a biting criticism of the footballer by Loop News columnist Karyl Walker.

Walker, in his popular column, had slammed Bailey over his demands that his younger adopted brother, Kyle Butler, be included as a condition for him to represent the country, and comments he made which appeared to belittle the quality of players on the Jamaican national football team.

Butler took to Facebook on Sunday to defend Bailey by explaining that "It is about fairness in selection of which (Bailey) was a victim for many years."

Butler supported his comments by highlighting his journey with the football academy he founded, Phoenix All Stars, which produced the likes of Bailey and his son Kyle Butler.

He said he and his players were treated unfairly by Jamaica's football administrators and he even accused one top official of siding with a political activist in getting him ousted as the holder of a Kingston and St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA) franchise, and another member of the local football hierarchy of dismissing Bailey’s talent when Butler attempted to get him into the national youth outfit.

See slightly edited version of Craig Butler’s reply below:

For those that are recently joining the discussion Jff ‘Leon Bailey Kyle Butler how it got to this

I woke up to an article this morning that tries to vilify Leon for taking his stand and finally personally giving his views on the question of representing Jamaica in the sport of football. It was a reaction by some journalist

I think it is best to advise the public how this came to be
Some years ago at 7 both boys requested me to coach and develop them to become professional footballers
I decided to do it right and dedicated myself to not just educating them but also personally
Learning best practices from Belgium Germany Austria holland Slovakia and Jamaican track 
I had been a manning cupper myself and premier league player as well as college scholarship standout so I had decent football knowledge
I put my own career in the field of technology down to guide them in the sport and teach them the beautiful game 
Soon there were other kids from all over Kingston and several
From st Elizabeth and the north coast that would join our academy which we named Phoenix All Stars Football Academy because we wanted a fighting spirit never before seen and equality throughout as they were all stars in their own right 
I recognized that most of footballs development was through high school and compared it to European football where most of that continent football was developed through clubs
Jamaicans trained in high school football for a mere three months out of the year with the goals of winning the high school or prep primary school competitions while our European counterparts developed their players over eleven and a half months 
To win demands a player must score at all costs while development requires the player to develop his abilities to be a complete player at all costs 
One develops a player that can use both feet is aware and experienced at the senior level the other wins a few high school trophies

As a result Jamaican players rarely made it directly from Jamaica 
And usually you hear of lindy deleapenha or a John Barnes Sturridge sterling etc who go to foreign countries young and become a part of that countries developmental model and their raw materials make them top players 
Rarely if at all has this been achieved at the highest level with locally developed players

So I decided to train my players 364 days per year focused on technical development and coupled that with leadership and best business practices gleaned from my experiences in corporate

Soon it bore fruit after three years 
Kyle and Leon kevaughn Kemar Travis Blagrove etc immediately became winners 
At one point the captain and or top scorers of the most prominent prep primary and high schools were from Phoenix 
Kevaughn Kevaughn Wildshark Atkinson topscored pepsi at calabar
Steven Edwards captained Mona high
Dominic James jamaica college pepsi
Travis Blagrove at Jamaica college manning
Jason Wright wolmers
Shawn Laura Norman Manley
Romario williams kc
Leon Bailey kc pepsi
Kyle butler captained St. George’s etc
Andre Wilson cbar
And the list continues today
With Jamaica college and all the prominent high schools having Phoenix players leading their charge

Something happened in 2007 that jolted Phoenix and hurt these kids tremendously
Having been successful individually for their schools the boys asked me to play in the Kingston and st Andrew football associations under 13 and under 15 competitions
We asked the ksafa and they advised that to do so we would have to take one of the dormant franchises as football is divided on a geographical basis and so to play we must represent a particular community 
They directed us to the stony hill franchise that no one had played in eleven years and told me to develop a field and organize the football etc security from police and support from schools 
We got the stony hill
Heart academy field and fixed it up 
We satisfied all their requirements 
I had put down my career and began liquidating my personal assets in order to take care of the boys
To do stony hill I sold my car 
At this time elections had been coming up in government and the area leader came over and threatened us that he wanted the franchise
When I told him no he came to my home in stony hill where myself and 23 of the boys my wife and new born daughter lived and shot my dog 
Instead of protectiving us then (football official) ordered us to make the same manour dog president of our club or they would take the franchise and give to him directly 
On the principle of it I could not do that or it would have ruined all I had preached to the boys
I said to ksafa ok take your franchise and give him but return to me my money I invested 
The (football official) said his word is law and I’d lose allnofnindidnt do what he said
I took them to court and the judge Brian Sykes was sympathetic to our case and set a trial date 
The ksafa banned me staying I do not have the right to take them to court

For the next years the same board members that banned me sought to scare and take my players anyone who stayed was vilified and any club that had the name Kyle butler Leon Bailey kevaughn Atkinson on their roster was immediately banned or threatened . 8 year old kids in their own country by their own countrymen were treated like criminals and were fought any whose parents became afraid enough and took their kids from Phoenix saw those kids immediately put in the national youth teams 
Jason Wright 
Romario williams
Shawn owes 
Jorghino James etc immediately
But they Hd tomoeave and go to the clubs owned by the board members of the same ksafa that banned our kids

We pressed on we stuck together 
Everyone in Jamaica thought I did some evil act why I was banned and it was extremely
Difficult to get sponsorship to keep our program running a program that was indeed saving lives it cost me my marriage at the time and the boys 
Suffered tremendously we played for papine utech the president of the club was banned and the club banned 
We went to mead forest the President was threatened 
We went to central Kingston the same 
Meanwhile Leon topscored the under 13 15 and 17 in the same year and Kyle had the most assists in the same league 
Atkinson dominated high school etc Dominic James won pepsi as captain of jc facing St. George’s in the final with Kyle as captain for staff
Yet the jff sanctioned the ban and refused to call any Phoenix player for the national team even when they had performed way above others as noted

Vilified in our own country by the governing body of football who then tried to scavenge our academy through its board members 
This was what we faced 
We Had no choice I order for the boys to continue their dream we would have to leave Jamaica and find a way
We went to Austria where I was head of recruitment and coach of the under fifteens and senior reserves at USA anif Leon and Kyle played under 15 and kevaughn played under 17 and senior team
Leon scored a plethora of goals 75 in fact in fifteen games and it is still a record today Mike Rosbaud was technical director of the club then and he remembers well Kyle was captain and had 25 goals of his own and led with 99 assists kevaughn was mvp and top scorer of the 1 b team that played in the Austrian landesliga

We sought to build a name for ourselves and academy so we could get out the other players from our academy and every training every match every sacrifice we made was to ensure we got them out build them and return to help Jamaica win a World Cup 
This was our goal to change Jamaican football from a mostly recruitmental system to a developmental system

We went all over Austria training with teams 
Then to holland fc twente ajax psv ado den Haag among many others 
Then we went to belgium genk anderlecht standard liege clubbe Brugge all the time the boys training and I learning 
All this time with all this success coming the jff and ksafa acted like Leon Kyle and company never existed

One by one we would bring up the boys and go on tours of Europe with the academy winning games and building a name
Soon Kyle and Leon and kevaughn went to kfc genk
Leon topscored the under 16s and Kyle a year younger did the same with the u15 kevaughn played in Genoa under 19
Soon they would do the same at the under 17 and 19 levelat genk
But still ignored by Jamaica 
Jamaica failed to qualify for the last under 17 World Cup yet Kyle started over belgiums players who also played for kfc genk and Kyle top scored and assisted wore the number 10 shirt of genk The same Belgian team that went on to place third in that World Cup

We came back to Jamaica whilst awaiting the boys residency in Europe and trained and played in Jamaica in front of the eyes of the jff every day for one year straight 
Played friendlies vs arnett gardens humble lions Waterhouse etc and the whole country got to see leon and Kyle and kevaughn after dominating Belgium the jff technical director who was also the coach at harbor view vin bone said Leon was nothing special and ordinary
Jamaica hosted the Caribbean under 2o competition and Leon not Kyle were ever called genk and ajax scouts seeking to find more players like Leon and Kyle came to the tournament surprised to see the two players that dominated their leagues in the stands

Jamaica played terribly and lost almost all games 
When asked if the scouts saw any players they were interested in the answer was yes the two in the stands

With this sadness always wanting to represent Jamaica and bring glory to our country and always wanting to understand why all this was going on it led me to look more closely at the Jamaican set up in football

And this is what I got

England has been the goal of all clubs to sign players 
To get a work permit in England one has to have 75 percent of his country’s last fifteen games as a starter on the national team 
Whilst this on the surface sounds correct to get the best possible players and protect home grown talent in England they didn’t take into consideration the set up of Jamaica

As stated earlier Jamaica’s football is divided on a geographical basis with franchises given out for particular areas by the babies of the associations 
There are 13 parish associations 
Who issue the geographical franchises 
Ksafa represents Kingston and st Andrew 
Let’s break this down for simplicity

The board of the ksafa is made up of the presidents of the clubs within the ksafa they as a unit make all decisions
They vote and the president of ksafa is the president of a club for example Rudolph speid was cavaliers president at the time he was president of the ksafa 
The board of the jff is then made up of the presidents of those 13 parish associations including for example the same ksafa president. Who is also the president of cavaliers football club
As is carvel Stewart the president of the harbour view fc 
So the 13 board members now vote not the public but the 13 people vote to decide the president and Vice Presidents and the general secretaries etc of the jff
So again the president and co all belong to a club
When you apply this knowledge to the English work permit rule requirement of national caps you’ll see that the only way for the club to make a transfer to England would be to get their players into the national team and get them games
So young players like Leon Kyle kevaughn and company no matter how good they were or how much they scored we’re never considered for the national team because those same club president decided who to hire as the coach and controlled with an iron fist that selection process of players in the hope they would develop one good enough to be scouted and get a contract in England

Whenleon was at the height of performance at genk scoring goal of the season in the Europa cup and top scoring in genk and being named young player of the season in Belgium Hd our views coach vin blind and also the technical director of the national team was saying he was ordinary

It is against this back ground that there Hd been a break down of trust for the jff and we are seeking fair ness in selection 
A recent article by some person at loop news sought to pull on the testiles of the jff to empower them to stand up to the audacity of a leon Bailey for actually taking a stand for what was right 
Fairness in selection
Not just for Kyle butler but all players who have attained a certain level in the sport and would be a consideration for the national team if not for personal bias
I put it to you that the only reason leon Bailey has been considered for Jamaica by the jff is because he cannot be hidden like the others whilst disguising the plan to call players that would benefit its bird members pockets later
I read where this supposed award winning journalist tried to equate kyles accomplishments in singing for and playing for a bundesliga club in Germany with high school players selection stating that if these players had the opportunity kyle had they would be playing at that level too. To the educated football mind we all know this is ridiculous and just crazy to say a man who has worked hard all his life to make it as a pro made the sacrifice and attained the level to make a top team in Europe should not be called and school boys play over him because maybe those school boys if they got the chance they would also make it

That is like saying if a man got the chance to go to medical school he would be a great surgeon so let us make him cut open the patient and forget about the surgeon who he accomplished 
What they don’t want to acknowledge is the real reason because Kyle is my son and to allow the Jamaican people to see him play once would remove all doubt about the bid and cruelty he and his brothers have suffered at the hands of the football governing body in Jamaica 
Kyle is signed to Lask Linz a top 3 Austrian Bundesliga Club
Alex marshal is a good young player and so too are
Many others 
They also got opportunities and went on trial in Europe
Kyle Butlermade it 
Leon Bailey made it
Kevaughn Atkinson
Made it
Kemar Vybz Reid made it and are continuing upward

Once Leon is capped he cannot turn back he cannot change 
Why has it taken all these years to cap these players when they been dominating from9 years old in Jamaica

Anyone who can say they haven’t seen Kyle butler or Atkinson or Reid play in Jamaican football should not be in Jamaican football 
There’s a plethora of video evidence all over the internet from youth up 
So now that Leon has saidhe has terms met don’t try to make it about Kyle butler 
It is about fairness in selection of which he was a victim for many years

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