On the 5th of June Platinum Stars announced that coach Cavin Johnson’s contract would not be renewed at the end of the 2016/17 season. The Rustenburg based club moved swiftly to fill the vacancy when they announced the appointment of Peter Butler as their new head coach on Thursday evening.
Peter Butler who was in charge of the Zebras of Botswana, resigned from the post on Wednesday in order to move to Dikwena at the start of July 2017 on a two year deal. The decision to appoint of Peter Butler came as a shock to many PSL observers, not only because Dikwena are not in the habit of appointing foreign coaches. The last foreign coach to take charge of the outfit was Argentine Miguel Gamondi who vacated his post at the end of the end of the 2008/2009 season after a two year stint.
The other reason why Butler’s appointment came as a shock is the fact he does not come with any continental club experience. Though the 50-year-old Halifax born Englishman is a well-traveled coach, having gone from mentoring Halifax Town to managing clubs in Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand. He has not coached a club on the African continent. Butler took over Botswana in 2014; but struggled to achieve any notable feat. The last time the Zebras qualified to AFCON was 2012 under Stanley Tshosane a Motswana coach. In fact in Peter Butler’s time as Zebras coach, South Africa has not actually had as many Botswana internationals playing in the PSL as in the past.
So the question is why would Platinum Stars be willing to swap a coach who gave them a top eight finish plus a continental tournament qualification for a coach who has no club experience on the
continent? The decision simply does not make sense. It certainly does not sound like a football decision. Not unless the club is heading for a completely different strategic direction to the one we anticipated.
On 083Sports with Marawa, Cliff Ramoroa explained that the he met with the board on the morning on which the team was leaving for the CS Sfaxien of Tunisia game in Tunisia, where the decision not to renew his contract was made. And straight after that he phoned Johnson to tell him of the board’s decision. So the result against CS Sfaxien may have vindicated the decision not to extend Cavin Johnson’s contract. But it was certainly not a factor because the decision was made before the kick-off.
Perhaps the issue is a misalignment between what Cavin Johnson wants is an investment the club, than what Royal Bafokeng Holdings (RBH) are prepared to make. Perhaps RBH sees the club as a cost center rather than a profit center. Johnson’s ambition may have been too lofty in terms of financing. Logic dictates if you were Johnson and you were asked to present your strategic outlook going forward, I doubt you would have been modest in your request for capital outlay for the season ahead. We shouldn’t forget that the economy is in the middle of a recession, and it is prudent that anybody running a business should assume an increase in the cost of capital in the next 18 months. Current economic conditions call for fiscal conservative posture rather than an expansionary one.
Now remember Cavin Johnson promoted a third of his squad last season. He was a critical part in the establishment of their development academy. He created succession in the coaching department, even going as far as successfully working with Keleabetswe Diale a female coach in the MultiChoice Diski Challenge team. Perhaps Johnson was just too ambitious and expensive.
All the projects he had started would have required money to finish off, and the board would have had to sign off on that money. I am almost convinced that the board made the decision to get rid of him because they were not interested in investing that much. The disparity in quality between their Johnson and his successor is a clear signal. Perhaps what all this points to is a club curbing its ambition? Maybe playing in a continental competition came too soon for them. Their cost base would have exploded with international travels that they basically decided to hold off, before they start eating into their reserves and upset their balance sheet.
Just a thought
The tempest prognosticator
Themba A Dikgale