BVI Basketball Federation Expecting Court Action In Referee’s Suspension Dispute

Dereck Varlack, Left and Neil Thomas

By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway 

Ahead of a 3-day weekend clinic to train more than 20 potential referees, the BVI Basketball Federation head said he’s awaiting a letter from a legal practitioner, after suspending several local referees.

The dispute between the federation and the referees stem from an incident in the Hon. Julian Fraser Save The Seed Basketball League towards the end of October, following a physical altercation between players from opposing teams—Bayside Blazers and Momentum.

“It so happened that all the committee members were there, all the referees were there and after the situation was assessed, and Mr. (Norville) Young was assessing the penalties, the one player went back after the other player,” referee Neil Thomas who wasn’t officiating told Island Sun Sports. “When any altercation happens on the court, as referees, you always write a report to the committee and the federation, explaining what happened and you wait for a written reply. We wrote and expected to get a written report, none was given. As time went on, we kept on asking what about being transparent? If you’re going to suspend the player for one game, just put it in writing saying the player got a one game suspension and everything is okay, but they never did it and that’s where this whole thing started from.”

Federation president Dereck Varlack—who’s also the Commissioner of the Save The Seed League—said the referees made a decision on what they had to do.

“The federation met, we sent them the letter, we gave them the opportunity to come and discuss with us. They didn’t come and we’re moving forward,” Varlack told Island Sun Sports on Tuesday night. “We don’t have no time to waste with no referees doing this kind of childish behavior. If they wanted to say anything to us, they had the opportunity on Tuesday (Jan 28) and they had an opportunity on Thursday (30). They said they’re putting us in court. We’re awaiting the letter from the lawyer that we’re going to court. That’s about it. Our decision is final. They’re suspended. Some have different terms of suspension, but we’re moving forward from there. We don’t have no time to waste with them.”  

Varlack said the federation received a letter from the Save The Seed League, they waited then made a decision and said it’s nothing to do with the federation.

“The federation is here to cover basketball in the BVI,” he said. “And if we get a complaint, we have to look at it and the suspension was due.”

Varlack said they gave the referees and opportunity after the incident and reached out to Thomas who didn’t address the issue but said it was an issue between Sea Cows Bay people and told him he had no issues with Sea Cows Bay people, Varlack said Thomas gave him his word that the referees would have been at the next game. 

“They showed up and walked away,” Varlack stated. “We gave them optimal time to explain what the decision was or why they made the decision—they did nothing. The federation met in November, we made a decision, the letter was delayed. They didn’t want to pick up the letter or come to a meeting so we sent it by Whatsapp, and it’s final.”

Thomas confirmed that he had a telephone conversation with Varlack on the Saturday of the game in which they would referee.

“I held up my end by telling him the referees would be present, dressed and ready to do the games which we did, but he didn’t hold up his end,” Thomas said on Wednesday morning. “They’re saying by mouth what they’re doing but all we were saying then and now, is be transparent. We put forward a written report. Reply in writing so there will be a written record, because as we are seeing now, the story can and will be turned around to make the referees look bad, but now’s it’s a problem between Sea Cows Bay people.”