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An open letter to the British American Football community

Following our Week 2 loss to the Sandwell Steelers, one of our long-term players (Josh Kelly) submitted a transfer request to one of our divisional rivals, the Leicester Falcons. I’m sure that many clubs around the country have seen this scenario play out within their own organisations; morale drops to such a level that some players seek success at other teams. However, concerns were raised after an off-the-cuff comment from Josh implied that his outstanding membership fees were to be covered by the Leicester Falcons themselves. This suspicion was later confirmed when a clerical error saw the money transferred to an account not associated with the Jets. During conversations between myself, Josh and Guy Kersey (GM & Coach, Leicester Falcons) it was made known that payment would come directly from Guy’s account:

At this point we decided, as a committee, to officially approach BAFA and BAFCA to request a statement on the matter. Specifically, we requested a view as to whether this practice fell under the BAFCA code of ethics for Recruiting and BAFA regulations:

3. Code of conduct
3.1. Bring the game into disrepute

A BAFA participant shall at all times act in the best interests of the game and shall not act in any manner which is improper or brings the game into disrepute, including but not limited to:

  • (i) making or accepting payments to participants that are not explicitly permitted, or causing or encouraging others to do so

However, while preparing our request we were approached by Josh who wished to solicit our help in transferring back to the Coventry Jets. In his message, he states “they were on and on to me to move to just try to make the jets weaker and to make them loo(sic) better” and “they have brought me over on false pretences”. He later goes on to confirm that his £100 debt was covered by the Leicester Falcons.

Full Conversation between Bruce Leatherman & Josh Kelly

Given the obvious connection (and implications) it was decided that this information would be provided to BAFA as supporting our concern and request for statement. In defense of BAFA, Martin Cockerill (President) did respond a few days later to request an official statement from Josh. Which we provided the following day along with a number of screenshots, also provided by Josh. Furthermore, the screenshots of Josh and Guy’s conversations go on to not only confirm the money came from the Leicester Falcons (again) but also imply that Guy believed his action were, in fact, underhand:

Josh Kellys statement to BAFA

Hi Martin,

Guy Kersley first started the conversation last season asking for me to come to the falcons, before the start of the season I informed Guy that I would be staying at the Jets.

After the Coventry Jets heavy defeat to Sandwell Steeler, Guy Started the Conversation with me again, in this conversation Guy told me ‘if it gets too much offer is still open’ further on from there I asked him ‘how do I go about transfer? Am I able to do it at this point of the season?’

Guy then Proceeded to inform me of how to transfer, this is where I told Guy, I had outstanding subs I would have to pay that first.

Guy then asked how much and if I could cover it which I replied I wouldn’t be able to anytime soon due to my child on the way.

Guy then stated that he would add it to my subs and that it would total £20 a month.

I never once asked for the money and guy brought it up and I also haven’t signed any form of player contract with the Falcons.

I have requested a transfer back to Coventry Jets, I did send an email asking bafa for advice but didn’t receive a response.

I have attached screen shot of the Conversations which includes all dates and times, unfortunately I do not have a picture of Guy transferring the money as he sent it directly to The Jets, Guy wasn’t Keen on doing this at first due to him saying ‘Might look bad’.

Josh Kelly.

Full Conversation between Guy Kersey & Josh Kelly

Unfortunately, it was at this point (May 11th, 2017) that the discussion with BAFA came to an abrupt halt.

We tried to follow up with BAFA only 10 days later, also citing the recent transfer of Dominic Olney to the Leicester Falcons. Dominic had failed to pay any membership fees to the club for the season and the committee took the difficult decision to inform him that he would not be allowed to participate in any team activities until the debt was, at least in part, rectified; Dominic submitted his transfer request the following day. A short time later the following conversation was shared with us; I should point out that the images imply a different relationship between Dominic and the Leicester Falcons than was reported with Josh, it also goes on to implicate another current Leicester Falcons player. As this relationship is unsubstantiated we did not request BAFA to investigate it specifically and we have removed the implicated party’s identity from the image:

While the images do not explicitly disclose any wrongdoing, they do reinforce the suspected pattern of potentially illicit transactions and cast significant doubt over the legitimacy of the transfer.

I’m disappointed to say that since this email there has been no response from BAFA other than to say that the matter was “taking time” and (later) that a response would be provided “[last] week”. In both cases the replies only came after chasing for an update and then informing BAFA of our intention to publish this statement, respectively.

Having spoken to a number of Head Coaches and GMs, I know that this behavior can be seen throughout the league. I’ve also heard your reasoning for not raising it officially but I implore you to reconsider. If you have evidence supporting a similar case then please submit it to the BAFA and BAFCA boards so that we might solicit the attention the matter requires and encourage both governing bodies to declare their stance on the matter.

Bruce Leatherman
Chairman, Coventry Jets