Ottawa Citizen: Wizards Coach Bolts on Owner
Wizards' coach bolts on owner

Busby claims role undermined by Sezerman

Martin Cleary
The Ottawa Citizen
Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Hubert Busby resigned yesterday as head coach of the Ottawa Wizards, despite directing the best team in the Canadian Professional Soccer League to eight wins and four ties.

"We had some philosophical differences on my role and where we stand at this critical point in the season," said Busby, whose team has six regular-season games remaining. "I have no problem with (owner) Omur Sezerman as a person, but our working relationship deteriorated in recent weeks."

He said he felt Sezerman had undermined his authority on several occasions.

Sezerman, the team president, was surprised by Busby's decision.

Busby, 34 and a member of the Jamaican national team from 2000 to 2002, carried the dual role of player/assistant coach in 2002 before becoming head coach this season.

"I didn't know (he resigned)," said Sezerman, who is in Florida on business. "If he has resigned, I wish him well."

Busby, who also is the technical director for the Kanata Soccer Association, said he sent an e-mail message to Sezerman to relay his decision, and has spoken to general manager Mike Ozses.

Sezerman, who is extremely passionate about soccer, dismissed the idea that there were philosophical differences between himself and the coach. "He knew I had the last say on every decision made," he said. "All the decisions are made by me. He knew that coming in. I have nothing bad to say about him. He must learn."

Ozses said he had heard rumours that Busby was retiring. "It's not confirmed yet. I haven't had a chance to talk to him," Ozses said. "We will make a press release on it, if it's true."

It's uncertain who will coach the team in home games against the Mississauga Olympians Saturday at 4 p.m. and London City Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Oz Optics Stadium field.

The Wizards had hoped to win the league and playoff titles as well as the Canada Cup for a second straight year, but when they didn't confirm their entry into the renamed Open Canada Cup, the league disqualified them from the last round. Sezerman, who was also upset that the Wizards were not playing host to the Cup's last round, had said he'd told the league earlier the team would be competing in it.

The Wizards also weren't happy with the tournament format and filed a complaint for health and safety reasons because some teams had to play three games within 48 hours. And Sezerman had felt the Wizards deserved an automatic berth in the final as the two-time champions.

He also filed an injunction to stop the final round of the Open Canada Cup, seeking a new schedule, but Justice de Lobe Panet of the Ontario Supreme Court rejected the Wizards' request. London City, which was eliminated earlier in the Open Canada Cup playdowns, competed as the host team and won the championship, plus $10,000.

The Wizards invited London City to a challenge match on a neutral field with a mutually agreed to date, location and referee. The loser would pay the winner $10,000. The RSVP deadline is today, but London won't respond. "I will not justify that with an answer," said London City general manager and head coach Harry Paul Gauss. "You can read into it what you want. The only response is no response."

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