By Marion V. Ali
The Belmopan Bandits released their key striker, Deon McCaulay, to the Atlanta Silverbacks on Saturday, March 1st, effectively ending McCaulay’s contract with the team.
McCaulay, 26, who entered the contract with Bandits in February 2013, was in limbo since the news broke that he had been drafted by the Silverbacks but that he still shared a legal and binding contract with the Bandits.
According to reports, Eric Wynalda, the Technical Director of the Silverbacks, contacted the Bandits to inquire about McCaulay’s status with the team.
Kenneth Budna, the Bandits’ Manager, that McCaulay had filled out the form to join the Silverbacks from January, while he was still playing with the Bandits.
“[Wynalda] asked about Deon’s contract and we told him that Deon has a contract with us [the Bandits],” Budna explained. “He said that Deon gave him a different story”.
McCaulay had, in fact, signed the contract with the Silverbacks from January 21st, even though he played in the Premium League of Belize (PBL) Championship Tournament, which ended three weekends ago.
Budna said that the Bandits asked Wynalda for compensation of $4,000 US for McCaulay’s release and when the team did not respond, Bandits’ owner, Minister John Saldivar, decided along with the team that it would be best to cut their losses and allow McCaulay go pursue his dream of playing international football.
Budna lamented that the fact that the Bandits is no without its main Forward, and that it will be impossible to replace him in time for the next tournament which starts this weekend.
“Nevertheless, we have to use our other three strikers and we will still be number one,” he said. “We just have to work hard with the other players .”
Budna said that the team doesn’t hold any malice towards McCaulay, despite the fact that “he broke protocol”.
The Bandits’ other three strikers. David Madrid, Jerome James and Brandon Peyrefitte, are who the team will work with to win its next 12 games until the tournament ends in May.
The news broke about McCaulay’s contract two weeks ago.
Just prior to that, he had reportedly approached the Bandits’ ownership and mentioned his interest in playing international ball – a conversation that ended with no agreement for his release from the team.
The Football Federation of Belize turned to the Transfer Management System, TMS, the international records and tracking system, which determined that McCaulay was still legally bounded to the Bandits at the time.
McCaulay, meanwhile, a semi-professional player transitioning as a professional with a Second Division US team, began to train with his new team on Saturday.