Pakistan's coach controversy October 24, 2008

Lawson sacking not 'a change of heart' - Ijaz Butt

Ijaz Butt had initially said that the PCB couldn't justify paying out the compensation if they sacked Geoff Lawson before his contract finished © AFP

Ijaz Butt, the PCB chairman, has denied that the sacking of Geoff Lawson as Pakistan's coach represents a change of stance from the board's earlier position, that Lawson would be allowed to stay till the end of his contract though the board had no "utility" for him. In fact Butt had stated only yesterday that he would fully back Lawson till the end of his tenure in August 2009.

"It isn't a change of heart," Butt told Cricinfo. "What I said initially was only my personal opinion. That was that Lawson is not a suitable man for the job. I wanted to seek the opinion and advice of others around me on the board before making a decision."

Butt had initially said the PCB could not justify paying out the compensation if they sacked Lawson before his contract finished. And the final decision rested on whether it was worth paying off a compensation claim or waiting till August 2009 before relieving him. "The question was whether to sack him now or later?," Butt said. "Detailed discussions were held with board officials and I had a meeting with Lawson too. After that we decided that it wasn't worth going ahead for another nine or ten months like this."

Even though the issue appears closed, Lawson's sacking leaves behind a mess and a slew of charges and counter-charges from both sides. Other reasons have emerged as to why the board changed its mind on his sacking. Equally there is a feeling now that Lawson will not go quietly.

The new administration, one board official told Cricinfo, felt the need to remove all traces of the Nasim Ashraf regime, a purge they have pursued vigorously since taking over. The other reason is likely to cause considerable friction.

"Lawson had not even attempted to meet the chairman even once since he took over," said the official. "We felt it reflected poorly on his attitude that he didn't want to meet the chairman and explain what he wanted and where he wanted the team to go."

When told that Lawson was upset that the chairman had not made any effort to meet him, the official asked simply: "Why should it be that way round? He is the chairman. The coach should seek him out."

The three-month compensation to Lawson, Cricinfo believes, is in the region of US$50,000, a figure the board felt was ultimately justifiable.

But this figure is likely to be a bone of considerable contention. It is reliably learnt that the letter of termination sent to Lawson, with a cheque for the compensation amount stapled to the back, has been returned. The amount, say sources close to Lawson, is "thousands and thousands of dollars short of what it should be."

These sources allege that other terms of the termination clause in the contract have not been fulfilled, increasing the likelihood that legal action may be the only option if the two parties fail to resolve the matter otherwise. Lawson is also said to be annoyed mostly with the way his departure has been handled.

"He is upset not so much that he was sacked but that he was treated with an absolute lack of respect and common sense by the PCB," the source said. "This is unlikely to be the end of the matter."

Osman Samiuddin is Pakistan editor of Cricinfo