Half my pay is missing - Ian Pont
The payments issue of the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) has been stirred once again with Ian Pont, the Dhaka Gladiators coach during the inaugural season, claiming he has not received half the money due to him. Pont's allegation came two days after the six franchises missed the latest deadline - July 21 - to complete all payments.
"I am personally missing 50% of my contracted amount and others are still awaiting re-imbursement of flights, expenses and original fees," Pont wrote in an email. "Pieces of paper kept being produced showing bank transfers by the franchise, but they never took place. Players and staff have been given a whole host of excuses. Deadlines and promises remain broken.
"The franchise, run by the Chowdhury family, has just stopped communicating. It's not only very sad but totally unprofessional to run a business this way in my view."
However, Gazi Ashraf Hossain, the BPL governing council chairman, said that Pont had received his payment in full, though he wasn't aware of any other clauses in his contract.
"As far as I know, he [Pont] was the highest paid coach in the tournament and already got the full payment of $20,000," Ashraf said. "I don't know if there was a promise of any additional amount in the contract. If such a thing exists, I will still say that our priorities are player payments and tax issues. We will look into his claim afterwards."
In response, Pont wrote another e-mail: "I don't really wish to talk about specific sums as they are and should be private. I can confirm that I have received half the amount stated in my contract. I don't get the obsession with the amounts. If someone is owed a dollar, they are owed money."
Pont also claimed some Dhaka Gladiators' players were willing to boycott their semi-final against Khulna Royal Bengals because they were not being paid. "The overseas players came to me and we had an emergency meeting where it was felt that boycotting the semi-final was a genuine option," he said. "So much money was missing that the guys didn't know what else they could try. But the players did not want to let the BPL down or the fans, which was the right thing to do.
"I am amazed we remained focused enough to win the whole competition and it's a testament to the players - overseas and local - when the only talk was about payments. It was hard to concentrate on the cricket with such an enormous distraction. After all, this is not simply a game for the players and staff, but it is their living."
Pont said he'd like to work in the BPL again but would quit the Dhaka franchise. "I anticipate returning to hopefully win the BPL again. It just won't be with the Shihab Trading Company's franchise. The fact is you cannot have players worrying if they are going to get their money. It just sends the wrong message."
Ashraf was disappointed with the irregular payments after the franchises missed yet another deadline. "We are a little frustrated with the payment issue. It would be nice for us if we could finish the inaugural tournament without any controversies, but still we have five months in hand before the next event to solve all the issues.
"We have got verbal assurance from some franchises. Actually most of the franchises are now focusing on the revenue issue. You know a huge financial deal was involved in the event, so it's not unlikely that they face some setback. I think we are in a learning process which will help us to arrange the next edition smoothly."
When asked whether the BPL would take tough action against a franchise that failed to settle the issue, Ashraf said: "The governing council will review all the things before taking any action. We hope the franchises can understand everything, so we are not in hurry."
Mohammad Isam is senior sports reporter at the Daily Star in Dhaka