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Sri Lanka full-strength but contracts unsigned

Andrew Fidel Fernando

March 16, 2014

Comments: 60 | Text size: A | A

Sri Lanka contracts issue timeline

  • 2003
  • SLC agrees to share a percentage of ICC event fees with players
  • 2010-11
  • SLC runs up debts of almost $70 million as it constructs stadiums for the 2011 World Cup
  • Feb-Sept 2011
  • Crippled by debt, SLC is unable to pay cricketers salaries for eight months
  • March 2012
  • Players refuse to sign fresh contracts due to a number of contentious clauses
  • July 2012
  • The issues are resolved, and the players sign
  • March 2013
  • SLC strike the players' share (25%) of the ICC events fees from the new contracts, which the players refuse to sign. After a 24-hour lockout, chief selector Sanath Jayasuriya mediates negotiations and gets the players to sign on the understanding that the players' share of the ICC event fees may be reintroduced in future years
  • January 24, 2014
  • Players give Jayasuriya a letter demanding 20% of the gross sum paid by the ICC to SLC for global events. Jayasuriya conveys this to the board, which is drawing up the new national contracts
  • February 27
  • The contracts list is announced and the contracts are sent to the players in Bangladesh. Upon noting that SLC has not reintroduced any clause that would give the players a cut of the ICC events payment, the players refuse to sign the contracts
  • March 12
  • The players meet with SLC to negotiate. The board promises to take the players' concerns back to the executive committee
  • March 13
  • The executive committee proposes an incentive-driven payment system for global events, as a partial sop to player demands
  • March 14-15
  • The players maintain their refusal to sign contracts, insisting on a percentage cut from the ICC payment
  • March 16
  • The players leave for the World T20, although the contracts remain unsigned

Sri Lanka's top team departed for the World Twenty20 in Bangladesh on Sunday morning, but the standoff over player contracts persisted, and will now likely only be resolved when the team returns. A board official had offered players an opportunity to sign when the team assembled at SLC's Maitland Place offices at 4am on Sunday, but the players had refused.*

The players had met late on Saturday to discuss their position, but although SLC had issued threats of sending a second-string team to the World T20 earlier in the day, the players maintained their opposition to a contract that does not feature a percentage cut of the payment SLC receives for the team's participation in global tournaments.

On Saturday night, SLC CEO Ashley de Silva indicated the board was content to defer contract negotiations. "If they don't sign it before they leave, I suppose we will look at it again when they come back," he said.

SLC stands to gain most from its cricketers playing in the tournament unsigned. The board is no longer bound to pay the $500,000 flat fee, nor the two-tiered incentive payments it had offered as part of its revised offer, which was a partial sop to the players' demand for 20% of the gross sum received by SLC for tournament participation.

As had happened in 2012, when contracts were not signed until mid-July, the players may not even receive match fees or regular salaries as long as the contracts remain unsigned. These funds are likely to be retroactively credited when the contracts are agreed to, however.

The players had softened their demands by the eve of their departure, asking for 12% of the tournament fee. The ICC is expected to pay SLC approximately $8.9 million for the World T20, meaning the figure the players had held out for, was about $1.07 million. The difference between the guaranteed flat fee the board offered and the percentage sought by the players amounts to about $570,000 for the tournament. But beyond those sums, the players' objection to SLC's proposal is largely driven by the belief they are due a percentage of the ICC payment, primarily as compensation for the use of their images in promotional material for global tournaments.

Sri Lanka's players had received a cut of the ICC event fee from 2003 to 2012, until the board struck that payment from player contracts last year. The players' grievances are also fueled by the complaint that they are being penalised for the administrators' misuse of finances. The board had run up debts of almost $70 million when they built two new stadia and renovated a third for the 2011 World Cup. Player payment has caused strife at the beginning of every 12-month contracts cycle since then.

The present standoff is also believed to have caused conflict within the board. President Jayantha Dharmadasa had been sympathetic to the players' concerns, but was outmuscled in the board room by an opposing faction.

*0600GMT, March 16: The article was updated with the latest on the contracts issues

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here

RSS Feeds: Andrew Fidel Fernando

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by kc69 on (March 17, 2014, 7:40 GMT)

Full strength?..I have never seen Chandimal score a matchwinning innings.In short if SriLanka cricket-(Sanga+mahela)<Zimbabwe.

Posted by Cricsnake on (March 17, 2014, 4:47 GMT)

Poor Management strategy from SLC. I think the players should be paid little fixed fee+ large performance basis incentives. They should build a proper performance evaluation system with the help of selectors. If SLC act smart this issue will not be disclosed to media. Crummy piece of administration. Jayasuriya has done his best to resolve the dispute. Better they could find a long lasting solution for this. It is an extra burden for the players & such disputes will demotivate them to perform. Anyway I wish all the best & strength to SL team to win the title for us despite many obstacles to face. Good Luck boys.

Posted by ramz30380 on (March 17, 2014, 3:44 GMT)

@Jury Why do u want to drag Ind into this mate?! Anyways FYI there is an aspiting talent amongst the U-19 ranks who has been lauded by Dravid Sanju Samson is the name - created quite a reputation in the IPL - hard hitting batsman, excellent wkt keeper and he is just 18!

There is life after Dhoni - not to mention Virat, Rahane, Rohit Sharma, Jadeja - all 25/26 yrs of age & have already proved in the internatopnal arena!!! Ind will not be found wanting mate!!!

Posted by class9ryan on (March 17, 2014, 2:32 GMT)

Thank you Sri Lanka Cricket Board for this nuisance. I hope the dressing room takes a toil and Sri Lankan do not win even if they reach finals. ( Not a SL supporter ).

Posted by Nuwas on (March 17, 2014, 2:15 GMT)

It was like in a day today in 1996 we changed the Cricketing History by winnings the WC.... Still can remember that day.... Proud to be Srilankan...

Posted by AVIRAL_Ashok on (March 16, 2014, 19:18 GMT)

@jury really??? I didn't quite know that!!! ha ha

Posted by Udendra on (March 16, 2014, 18:01 GMT)

I won't be surprised if SL exits in first round itself. How can you expect a demotivated bunch to perform well? It's the non-professionalism of the Administrators that is to be blamed.

Posted by Rambo88 on (March 16, 2014, 17:47 GMT)

Looking at Sri lanka's current form and winning the ASIA cup final, It looks like after 96 world cup we are in the best position to win a major tournament. If we can win the semi final with pakistan or australia this time, we should do it. We have the right balance and we also have a team that bats deep plus we know the conditions well and most importantly we broke the jinx with finals by winning the ASIA CUP. so it looks like all the elements our in place for a SRI LANKAN VICTORY.

BRING THE T20 CUP HOME BOYS!!! DO THIS FOR SANGA AND MAHELA !!!! THEY AND THE WHOLE NATION DESERVES THIS CUP.

ALL THE BEST

Posted by   on (March 16, 2014, 16:59 GMT)

Big players like Sangakara, Jayawardane, Dilshan, Malinga and Herath can opt to retire together in the same day before WC2015 which will put Sri Lanka in dire straits.

Posted by golfallday on (March 16, 2014, 15:03 GMT)

It is unfortunate that the Board doesn't realize that it is the players that allow them to maintain the lifestyle they do. Again, unfortunately they will use the fact that the players left without a contract as leverage when they come home. If that doesn't work, there is always the option to tarnish their images in the media, see Maliga, Sanga and Mahela as examples.

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