United coach fired over leave dispute

2012-01-14 00:00

NOT one week after being told that his future at the club was safe, Maritzburg United coach Ian Palmer has been fired.

The news was confirmed yesterday morning after a conflict between Palmer and the club’s chairman Farouk Kadodia over Palmer’s plans to take leave from his duties to attend a Safa-run coaching course.

Kadodia confirmed that an initial application for two weeks leave between January 15-29 was granted by the club, but that on Tuesday night Palmer sent the chairman an e-mail to inform him that the course would be spread out over a period of five months.

According to the club, the course would have meant that Palmer would be away from work for 76 working days. “We hired a full time coach, not a part time coach,” Kadodia told Weekend Witness last night. “Ian violated his contract with us and I am very disappointed in his behaviour.”

Kadodia acknowledged that Palmer’s contract did allow for him to take two weeks leave to attend the course.

“He told us that he needed two weeks leave, which was fine,” said Kadodia. “But then two days later he tells us that he needs even more time away. How is the club going to manage this situation? Can we afford to have our head coach away for such a long time?”

A meeting between Palmer and Kadodia took place on Wednesday, but neither party would back down and with Palmer adamant that he would be attending the course, no compromise was found.

The former Orlando Pirates striker says that he feels extremely hard done by.

“In my contract it says that I can do my professional license and it would have only really affected the Kaizer Chiefs game [April 17],” Palmer said. “I feel very hard done by and I am hurting.”

Palmer was named the PSL’s coach of the month for August/September last year after guiding United to seven matches undefeated and third place in the PSL.

In his very next match, a 7-0 thrashing at the hands of SuperSport United started of a nightmare run that saw him go seven matches without a win and his future at the club became uncertain towards the end of 2011. Last week a performance review meeting was held for Palmer where he was given the club’s backing moving into the second half of the season. “When I came to this club I showed commitment and I expected the club to support me in return,” Palmer said. “I am very hurt, especially for the players. I had a special bond with them.”

Palmer added that he would go ahead with his plans to complete the course, which all PSL managers will have to finish in the near future, and that he had already received a few phone calls from parties interested in securing his services.

“It is a bitter pill to swallow and I would have loved to have come to a resolution,” he said. “For the people of Maritzburg, this is not a fair decision.”

Palmer encouraged fans to keep supporting the team despite his abrupt exit.

“I’d like to encourage people to still come down to the ground — if managed well the side can still make the top eight,” he said. “I would just like to thank the fans for all the support they have shown. I will never forget them — this [Pietermaritzburg] is a special place.”

For Kadodia, though, Palmer should be seen as the villain in the situation.

“Ian Palmer has dumped Maritzburg United and dumped the people of Maritzburg,” he said.

• sport@witness.co.za

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