Payment agreement saves Masters Champions League
Organisers of the Masters Champions League have insisted that all players will be paid in full after late payments threatened the continuation of the tournament.
ESPNcricinfo understands that, after some team owners missed payments, several of the captains declared a deadline by which payments had to be met or they would decline to fulfil their fixtures.
As a result, the MCL's parent company, Grand Midwest Hotels, made cash payments to all the affected players. While some teams are still behind their payment schedule, all players have now received at least 25% of their salary with a promise that another payment will be made later in the week. By February 4, three of the six teams will be up to date with their payments.
The original agreement stipulated that players would receive their first payment of 25% upon signing their contracts and another 25% upon arrival in the UAE. But to ensure the MCL attracted enough high-quality players - and the likes of Virender Sehwag, Brian Lara, Muttiah Muralitharan, Adam Gilchrist and Kumar Sangakkara are among the 90 players taking part - the contracts included a clause guaranteeing than any failure from the team owners would be compensated by the parent company. As a consequence, Zafar Shah, the GMH chairman, produced the necessary cash.
Meanwhile, the MCL faces a challenge to allay the concerns of the ICC. Some national boards - and some of the ICC executive - feel the parameters of the tournament have crept beyond its original design since it was approved by the ICC as an event for retired players.
While organisers always stated it was an event for players retired from international cricket, there are many players involved who are still making a career in domestic cricket and several, including a couple in their 20s, who retain international ambitions. Richard Levi and Kyle Jarvis, for example, may have retired from playing international cricket for South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, but retain hopes of playing international cricket for England.
With some boards - notably Pakistan, West Indies and South Africa - concerned that the scheduling of the MCL could dilute the quality of their own domestic competitions, the definition of the word "retired" may well have to be clarified if the tournament is to prove viable.
"We're going to get it right," a member of the MCL governing body told ESPNcricinfo. "There have been some teething problems, but every player will be paid and we will work with the ICC to ensure any concerns they have are alleviated."
Specifically, the MCL management have insisted that no player without a No Objection Certificate will be able to participate and that the MCL will meet just about any condition stipulated by the ICC for their continued approval of the tournament.
The MCL has agreed a deal with the Emirates Cricket Board to run the tournament in the region for ten years. Despite the "teething problems", the standard of cricket - and entertainment on offer - has been higher than many suggested ahead of the event and early anecdotal evidence suggests it has a decent television audience.
And, while some of the national boards have concerns, there is also a willingness to find a way to make the tournament work to enable former players to continue to earn a living from the sport.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo