World Twenty20 February 9, 2016

Contract crisis threatens West Indies on eve of World Twenty20

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WICB, players at odd over T20 pay

West Indies cricket is facing the prospect of a player strike on the eve of the World Twenty20 after the 15-man squad appeared collectively to reject the contracts on offer from the WICB.

Darren Sammy, captain of the West Indies T20 side, has written to the board stating the players "can't accept" what they perceive as "huge financial reductions" in the terms compared to previous global tournaments which, he says, amounts to an 80% cut.

Sammy also stated that 14 of the 15-man squad are not part of WIPA (the West Indies Players' Association) and therefore had not given the organisation the authority to negotiate on their behalf.

Though Sammy himself stopped short of threatening to withdraw from the tournament, ESPNcricinfo understands that other squad members have not ruled out the possibility. He made it clear that the players would not accept the current offer and called upon the board to "address this urgently".

"We want to represent the West Indies but the financials on offer we can't accept," Sammy wrote.

"Obviously I am not privy to exact numbers paid to the WICB from the ICC, but I understand USD $8m will be paid to the Board.

"Traditionally 25% has been paid to the squad. That would equate to USD $2m / 15 therefore approximately USD $133,000 per player.

"Worse case scenario the squad would earn $414,000 collectively under the terms of the contract offered by WICB to participate in the T20 World Cup 2016. That is just over 5%. A staggering difference, a near 80% reduction.

"We want to propose we participate in the T20 World Cup 2016 under the same terms we have represented the West Indies in previous tournaments.

"Please can you address this urgently. The T20 World Cup is just a matter of weeks away."

But the premise of Sammy's argument was quickly dismissed by Michael Muirhead, the CEO of the WICB. He insisted that the sums mentioned in Sammy's statement were "totally incorrect" and reminded the team that WIPA remains the "recognised collective bargaining representative of West Indies cricketers and therefore negotiates the remuneration between WICB and each West Indian player, whether such player is or is not a member of WIPA."

"We are not sure where you obtained this information, but assure you it is totally incorrect," Muirhead stated in connection with the $8m figure.

"As a result of the ICC revamp which was agreed on 8 February 2014, the ICC has changed the manner in which distributions to Full Members in relation to ICC events are paid - starting from the ICC WT20 2016. These payments are now spread out and distributed over an eight-year cycle, rather than being paid out in a lump sum and attributed to any one event.

"It is therefore not possible to identify a particular sum which will be paid to the WICB by the ICC in respect of the WT20 2016.

"While it is true that WICB has previously calculated compensation to the ICC event squad members as a percentage of the ICC distribution received in relation to the particular event; because of the reason outlined above, it is not possible to calculate a percentage to be paid to the Squad, as the ICC distribution is no longer being made in the traditional manner.

"The WICB, in recognition of this, and in an effort at fairness and transparency, allocates 25% of WICB revenues estimated over a four-year period - including ICC distributions - to players, through a guaranteed minimum revenue pool, out of which player payments are made.

"Anything in excess of this minimum over the relevant four-year cycle, will be divided solely among the international players, as agreed with WIPA.

"The remuneration to the players for the WT20 comprises an agreed match fee of three times the usual fee, plus 50% of the net proceeds of any sponsorship for the event, and 80% of any prize money earned by the team. Note that for this tournament, the prize money has increased substantially from the previous WT20, moving from a gross total of US$3million to US$5.6million, of which the winner will receive US$1.6million."

Muirhead signed off his reply by making it quite clear the WICB was not prepared to compromise.

"We are unable to move the deadline of 2pm ECT on 14 February 2016 for receipt of the signed player contracts for the WT20 2016."

West Indies won the 2012 version of the tournament and recently returned to the top of the ICC T20 rankings. They are currently rated as the world's second-best international T20 side.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • marisule on February 11, 2016, 6:39 GMT

    If someone has a recurring injury, there is only two things that can be done. Either you go under the knife or take a permanent rest. I cannot take any side in the conflict because I don't know the financial ramifications or the board's policy about disclosure of such matters but I think the board should disclose its side to it's stakeholders which are the paying public only because this silliness have been going on for much to long. We need the best product on the field at all times. Also 90% of the players picked for this tournament are millionaires, which they should also thank the West Indies board for allowing them to play in so many tournaments around the world without sanctions. Its time these guys give back to the West Indies community by representing them even if they are not totally satisfied.

  • Rally_Windies on February 10, 2016, 19:25 GMT

    oh,

    I am sure we are going to hear the argument about pay for performance.. "we should not pay the players because they are not performing"

    SO

    you are saying that the world champion team is not performing ...

    GOOD ARGUMENT ...

    Real strong ! ! !

    How about we pay the administrators based on performance ? How about THAT !

  •   Trevor Smith on February 10, 2016, 19:16 GMT

    Who is tired of this last minute haggling? 18 months after the India-debacle we are now engaging in serious dialogue at a time when on-the-field matters should be the focus. Having followed and supported the Windies for all of my conscious life I am past fed up with this nonsense. I might have to identify to support in the T20 World Cup.

  • davidseymour on February 10, 2016, 18:35 GMT

    This is a ridiculous position by Sammy et al. The players do not know the value of the sponsorship revenue but proceed to base their calculations on their assumptions. Additionally Sammy's letter requests urgency in a response from the Board when He and the others have shown a lack of urgency since receiving in writing the terms since May 2015. It is obvious that their timing is aimed at eliciting a panicked acquiescence now that the event is imminent. The Board should be responsible and reject Sammy's demands. By all means meet with the players to discuss dissatisfactions but without prejudice to preparation for the tournament. Businesslike interchange should be constant between the players and the Board but if there can be no resolution now another team should be selected.

  • DrJez on February 10, 2016, 15:23 GMT

    The whole argument is based around $400k being only 5% of $8m. If the $8m is wrong, the whole argument falls down.

  • alexpugliese89 on February 10, 2016, 11:06 GMT

    This is 100% it for me, I'm done with West Indies cricket!! If the WICB does not come to a compromise with this core group of players (this is the best squad they can pick from in any format) I'm not supporting the team anymore, Any team that the WICB picks that is not this team is not the best regional team. I am sick of seeing second rate teams being picked, this has gone on for 16 years since the tour of South Africa. Boycott the WICB until they figure out that its the players and the fans that matter!!

  • SHEREHIND on February 10, 2016, 10:34 GMT

    It is now emerging that the pay terms were in knowledge of these players since last May. Therefore raising this issue after announcement of team is nothing but blackmailing. More so because these, players can afford to confront as they are earning handsome money from T20 leagues around the world.

  • PaddyRasta2 on February 10, 2016, 10:28 GMT

    The expectation from Muirhead that WIPA is the only representation of these players in this matter is downright amateurish and is not solutions focussed. WI T20 standing is the only thing that the board has left and in fact Muirhead and WICB wanted to take credit for the last WC win. Also the non-negotiable attitude just shows the lack of management skills. Transparency is the key here. Has he talked to Sammy and presented accurate figures for his arguments? Presumably Sammy has spoken with the squad and is their spokesperson. ICC really needs to step in here and threaten to cut off WICB if they cannot provide a solution and field their best team. WICB needs to be disbanded. ICC could then talk to Caricom to form a leaner organisation than the 17 board of directors that WICB is - This new board would then have money to pay players correctly.

  • SHEREHIND on February 10, 2016, 10:26 GMT

    Pakistan opting out may be a blessing in disguise, see present under 19 world cup, nobody is missing Australia, and in their absence NEPAL got a chance to show, that they are second to none.

    So Pakistan going out, will open up new avenues for upcoming team like Afghanistan, Ireland.

  • taaj1079 on February 10, 2016, 9:37 GMT

    I think its ICC should consider and allow Caribbean countries to form their own squads instead of a collective team, compete with each other (like in football) and top 2/3 can take part in ICC tournaments etc. Its not working anymore. in that 15 man squad, everyone plays in different t20 leagues and earns handsome amount, yet whenever they are asked to play for WI, there is a new drama about payments. I believe WICB financially is not stable and needs money to sustain and develop cricket in WI, so everyone involved in the board/WI cricket needs to sacrifice a bit. But WI stars don't seem to have interest playing for WI, few years ago Sri Lanka board could not pay their players including the likes of Sanga, Mahela yet they kept playing.

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