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The Batty Saga

By: Bill Osborne
Date: 23/09/2000

Jason Batty the New Zealand goalkeeper is presently on a 3-month trial with Grimsby Town. We have pieced together the story leading up to Peter Lilliman assisting Jason to join Grimsby and the politics involved.

Just two months before the start of the National Soccer League season in New Zealand, The Football Kingz the NZ team Batty played for dropped him as their goalkeeper and replaced him with a keeper from Argentina. Twenty-nine-year-old Batty was called to a meeting to be told by Kingz player-coach Wynton Rufer he was being released and that Argentine goalkeeper Julio Cuello would be the first choice for the new season. Asked whether the decision was a shock, Batty said: "Not really, I'm as professional as anyone and sure the decision has nothing to do with my performance." "I came back from holiday in the United States to get ready for pre-season training. I certainly wasn't expecting this." Batty said "I am not actively seeking any other club because I still have the second year of my two-year contract with the Kingz to play. In announcing the decision, Rufer, the coach, said, "He will be paid and we will help him to find another club. It was, purely and simply, a coaching decision. Batty is too good to be retained as a second choice, we will be looking for a second keeper." Batty was given a letter setting out the club's position and making it clear that he was no longer wanted, even at training. It is understood, that under his contract he was to be paid a bonus if he played 50 per cent of the Kingz' games last season. The club is also in discussion with Jason Batty's father, John, over outstanding wages ($45,000) for work in office management done as a working director last season. Batty senior retains a shareholding in the club but has been dumped as a director and is no longer on the Kingz board. New Zealand All Whites coach Ken Dugdale hit out at the Football Kingz management. "What's going on?" said Dugdale in response to the news that Jason Batty had been dropped. "From the outset the Kingz said they are there for the development of New Zealand soccer and in particular Kiwi players. That, certainly, is no longer ringing true." "Decisions like this are going to impact on everybody," said Dugdale from Kuala Lumpur, where he was with the New Zealand team for the Merdeka tournament. "They have to be shown up for what they are in making such decisions". "The Kingz would not release their players, including Batty, to play here yet they turn around and do this. How come when we sat down to discuss player availability it was [assistant coach] Shane, not Wynton, who met me, and Batty was not mentioned?" Shane Rufer said, "We have made a decision and we are going to stick with that." Asked if the decision to play new Argentine goalkeeper Julio Cuello ahead of Batty was made on playing ability only, Rufer said: "Yes." Shortly after these events. Peter Lilliman, a Grimsby ex pat contacted Batty about a trial period with the Mariners and after negotiations with the club, Batty joined Grimsby Town on a 3-month trial. David Batty is still the first choice goalie for the New Zealand team.

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