Bailey, maybe?

JFF, Butler say progress made after meeting

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

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RISING Bayer Leverkusen star Leon Bailey inched a step closer to probably one day donning the colours of Jamaica's Reggae Boyz following a hurriedly arranged meeting between the top brass of the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and Craig Butler of Phoenix Academy, yesterday.

Though news emerging from the meetimg remains sketchy, the Jamaica Observer understands that Bailey will be invited to the next set of friendly games, while the coaching staff will take a look at Kyle Butler.

Bailey, 20, has been invited to represent Jamaica in the friendly international against South Korea on January 30, but that being a non-FIFA date, it is most unlikely that he will be released by his club.

However, he could make his debut in a home fixture during the March 19-25 FIFA international window on local soil.

The availability of the Bundesliga player, who has been creating waves in Germany's top league, has been the heated topic of debate for some time.

At a meeting said to be held at the offices of the JFF yesterday, the local governing body's president Michael Ricketts, along with general secretary Dalton Wint, board director Peter Reid and member of the technical and development committee Rudolph Speid, had dialogue with Bailey's adopted father and agent Craig Butler to discuss the player's international future.

A vague press release issued by the JFF yesterday stated that the meeting was an amicable and productive one.

“There was an understanding on a framework for a possible working relationship which will benefit Jamaica's football,” it stated.

“The president indicated to Mr Butler that player Leon Bailey will be called to the national team for the upcoming fixture on January 30th (non-FIFA date) and, if confirmed, a home fixture during the March 19-25 FIFA international window”.

“The JFF president also indicated that the JFF and the technical staff of the senior team is committed to calling and giving a fair chance to young players who show good potential for the senior national team,” it added.

When contacted by the Observer Ricketts said he could not divulge much more in terms of what transpired at the meeting until he met with his board of directors on Saturday.

“But I must say my first meeting with Butler was fruitful and a lot of positives have come from it. The issues were amicably settled,” said Ricketts.

But an impeccable Observer source revealed that Butler, the CEO and owner of the Phoenix Academy, would indeed be given a position within the JFF.

“Bailey will play for Jamaica, Kyle will get a look-in and Butler will be given a JFF position,” said the source, who was not authorised to speak on the matter.

The JFF statement also noted that “Mr Butler indicated the areas in which he would like to contribute to the programme”.

But during Television Jamaica's sportscast last evening, Butler indicated that although progress was made the party still had some ways to go. He also unwittingly admitted that he would not allow any of his players to represent Jamaica if he did not have a role in the process.

“We are discussing and we are debating and we have come a far way, but it takes time and it will take some more negotiating and everybody be able to keep their word; if that happens then I don't see why Jamaica shouldn't benefit,” he said.

And when asked about the chances of Bailey representing Jamaica, on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the highest, he said. “At this point I say a good six right now. It was zero yesterday, so I think six is good.”

He was also quizzed about playing a role in the federation. “That is left to be seen, but we should also be cognisant of the fact that I would not allow Leon or Kyle or any players that I'm in charge of to be exposed without having some form of capacity to help the process.”

Prior to Jamaica's last friendly international away to Saudi Arabia last October, members of the JFF, including head coach Theodore Whitmore, met with Butler, who at the time stuck out for other players from his Phoenix Academy to be included in the team which did not go down well with the coach, who was only interested in Bailey at that time.

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