No hard feelings towards players - WICB president

Guyana Chronicle
January 26, 2003

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PRESIDENT of the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) Reverend Wes Hall, reacting to the news that the West Indies cricketers and the board had settled the impasse over the players’ demands that they be paid a larger share of the sponsorship money during the upcoming World Cup in South Africa, said there were no hard feelings towards the players.

“The dispute centred on a feeling by the players that they should have a large portion of the sponsorship,” he said. "There are no bad feelings between the players and the board and we don’t look at what happened in that way. Indeed, we have had very good and congenial relationships with the players compared with other countries.”

The WICB president was in New York to help promote the upcoming Australian tour of the West Indies, especially the back-to-back Test matches in Barbados and Antigua and he was guest of honour at a reception, organised by the Barbados Tourism Authority and its business development manager for the northeastern region of the United States, Gregory Armstrong, a former Barbados fast bowler.

Afterwards, Hall told the Saturday Sun that the WICB was taking a realistic approach to the issue of sponsorship and money to the players, recognising that the once bountiful revenues the WICB used to earn when the West Indies were the world champions were a thing of the past. At the same time, he added, it was clear that the players were better organised and wanted to have a greater share of the money, including the sponsorship.

“Cricketers are now more organised; they are unionised actually and they are able to fight at the highest level, the International Cricket Council (ICC), and sometimes bring them nearly to their knees, as is happening now with India,” he said in an interview after addressing and urging at least 200 Australians who live in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut to visit Barbados and Antigua to watch their country go up against the West Indies in the Test matches.

The WICB president pointed out that a few days ago Sri Lanka and its players reached an agreement for ten per cent of the earnings from the games going to the cricketers. Australian cricketers recently settled for 25 per cent of the earnings.

Hall said that although the board recognised that the players must be paid more money, the hard fact of the matter was that the revenue streams were extremely limited and sponsorship was now the financial lifeline for West Indies cricket.

“The funds were spread to 174 cricketers in Australia but when we (West Indies) negotiate, our funds go to 15 players,” he explained. “There is a vast difference. Having a retainer programme would alleviate most of the problems that we have (in the West Indies.) We need the players who will be playing in Carib Cup.

“We need those players who are not Test players but playing nevertheless for their countries. We need them to play for a bit more money. But you can only do that with sponsorship and you can only do it when you have the type of money in the board’s coffers”.

He seemingly sounded a word of caution to the players, urging them not to compare their situation with the Australian or English players because the cricket authorities in those two countries received large sums of money from sponsors and for broadcast rights.

In the West Indies, on the other hand, the amounts earned by the WICB were much smaller from sponsors and they often ended up giving away the rights to the games in the West Indies to a television production company in order for people to be able to watch the matches in their homes. (Barbados Nation)

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