Says challenger Stephenson failed to score as KSAFA president
FUNDING, or the lack thereof, has grabbed much of the spotlight as the battle intensifies for the post of president for the Kingston & St Andrew Football Association (KSAFA).
Ambassador Stewart Stephenson, the association's former head, is challenging the incumbent Rudolph Speid in the elections set for August 2.
Stephenson, who led KSAFA between 1996 and 2000 and again from 2004-08, has claimed that the Speid-led administration has failed to attract sufficient sponsorship for competitions and programmes.
Stephenson, a lawyer by profession, said a major strength of his slate — if elected — is the ability to raise funds for the cash-strapped association.
"We will attract sponsorship, others will not. It's easy as ABC," he said last Wednesday, moments after the launch of his election bid.
"Vitally, there is no sponsorship support for football in the Corporate Area. You can't run the game without that support."
But Speid, a chartered accountant, has fired back, saying KSAFA has raised $150 million in his six years at the helm.
"When Stewart Stephenson was president for eight years he got $45 million in sponsorship. We, in six years, got $150 million, so we had three times the amount in less time," he told the Sunday Observer.
Using an analogy involving Brazilian football legend Pele, the KSAFA boss was dismissive of the sponsorship promise that his opposite number has put forward.
"You can't say you are better that Pele and you haven't scored more goals than he has. We have outperformed Stewart Stephenson. His track record doesn't support his promise."
Speid has been president of the Corporate Area football body since 2008. He powerfully thwarted the challenge of Leon Mitchell in August 2012 and barely held off a no-confidence motion to his KSAFA leadership in September of last year.
The incumbent is also the chairman of Premier League team Cavalier SC and a former Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) treasurer.
In launching further attacks on Speid's reign, Stephenson said that the corporate area Jackie Bell Knockout competition, sponsored by Jamaica Yellow Pages, is currently KSAFA's main shining light.
"This administration, obviously, is now without any sources, outside of Jackie Bell with the Yellow Pages' support. But there are Major and Super Leagues, the Under-13s, Under-15s and Under-17s, and they need support," argued Stephenson.
When asked what new ideas his executive could bring to the table in such trying economic times, his response came in typical confident fashion.
"We are different people, we have corporate leaders in every field. We have brought money every time. Nothing has changed in Jamaica, and it's all been hard times since I was a boy. The leadership needs to look at itself. Maybe they're not able to attract it because they bring nothing new to the table. That's a matter for them to look at," Stephenson said.
He declared that a commitment has already come from a corporate partner if he is elected.
A strident Speid, in response — though not specifying the quantity of investment for each KSAFA-sponsored competition — was again on the counter-attack.
"The (value of the) dollar is sliding, a lot of businesses are doing very badly, and sponsorship is harder to get than before. We have sponsorship for Jackie Bell with Yellow Pages, Major League Hi-Lyte [Sport drink], the Under-17s with Facey (Commodity). You have to put that into perspective. What KSAFA did was to run the competition out of its resources, but they were still played."