FICA begins legal action over BPL payments
Legal proceedings have been initiated by the Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) against the Bangladesh Cricket Board (BCB) and the franchises involved in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) following a widespread failure to pay players.
The first edition of the BPL ended in February but, despite repeated assurances and deadlines, FICA has been informed that many players have yet to receive full payment. As a result, the players' organisation has instructed lawyers in Dhaka to file a claim against the relevant franchises and the BCB.
"This is a black and white matter," Tim May, the chief executive of FICA, told ESPNcricinfo. "It was stipulated by contract how much the players would be paid and the date by which they would receive payment. It was also stipulated that, if the franchises couldn't pay, then the BCB would act as guarantors and would make the payments.
"We have been waiting for four months. Deadlines have come and gone and all we have had is a litany of excuses. It has come to the stage where all avenues of dialogue have dried up and the BCB have stopped responding to FICA.
"If it was not such a serious matter, some of the excuses they are coming up with would be amusing. They have said there are foreign currency issues, for example, but even some of the Bangladesh players have not been paid. They keep saying the payments will be made tomorrow, or next week, or the week after, but it has never happened."
May derided the behaviour of the Bangladesh board as "amateurish" and even questioned the integrity of some of those involved in the organisation of the tournament which attracted such diverse overseas players as Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Stuart MacGill and Peter Trego. Afridi, who topped the auction at $700,000, was reported last month as saying that he had been paid.
"We don't know if they have the funds available to make payments," he said. "If we had a relationship based on trust we could understand their issues and agree a timeline for payments, as we did with the Sri Lanka board when they had some cash flow difficulties. But they have behaved in an amateurish manner and we have no confidence in them or their integrity."
Mustafa Kamal, the BCB president, has ambitions to become a president of the ICC, but May suggested that the continued impasse could harm his candidature.
"The integrity of people involved in the leadership of Bangladesh cricket is spiralling downwards uncontrollably," he said. "We have had continued assurances from Mustafa Kamal - a man touted as the next ICC president - but the continued non-payment does not reflect him in a particularly good light."
The episode presents a serious threat to the second edition of the BPL, which is due to begin in January 2013. FICA will take a more uncompromising line when it comes to advice they give players about payment.
"Our advice to players is not to get involved in future unless they are either paid, or they receive bank guarantees, before they board the plane," May continued. "The BPL will probably say that is unreasonable, but they have brought this on themselves. We have been trying to resolve this for months and legal action - which will take money that we could better spend on developing the game - is a last resort.
"Our recommendation this year was for players not to travel until they had received 25% of their payment, but some went anyway. If you have a situation where players don't receive that upfront payment, it is a sure sign that things are likely to go pear-shaped. We have major worries about the administration of the BPL."
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo