Sponsor contract row simmers June 21, 2005

West Indies tourists given deadline



Denesh Ramdin: one new face in the squad © Trinidad & Tobago Express
Notwithstanding the current impasse with the West Indies Players Association (WIPA), the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) have decided to invite 13 players, recommended by the selectors, to make themselves available for selection to take part in the tour to Sri Lanka.

Included in the group is Trinidad & Tobago wicketkeeper and former West Indies Under-19 captain Denesh Ramdin who replaces former team vice-captain, Courtney Browne.

In a media release yesterday, the WICB indicated that two more players will be added from the West Indies A team, which left for Sri Lanka on Friday, and that the invited cricketers had until tomorrow to indicate whether they would be accepting the invitations and match/tour contracts issued by the board.

The latest WICB move follows stalled discussions with WIPA on Friday over the matter of player contracts, specifically clause 5 which has been at the heart of an ongoing dispute between the governing body and the Players Association since last November.

On Saturday, WIPA commenting on the meeting which also involved adjudicator Justice Adrian Saunders, argued that the disputed Clause 5 be submitted to Justice Saunders for binding adjudication for the Sri Lanka tour only.

WIPA said their legal counsel had advised that, "Clause 5 as is presently drafted does not sufficiently protect the individual property rights of the players in accord with Justice Saunders' earlier ruling."

Yesterday the WICB said they had made, "every attempt" to avoid going to the players by submitting the Match/Tour Contract to WIPA on June 2 but there was no response by WIPA." The released said the WICB viewed as "unfortunate," what they described as "WIPA's deliberate and complete misrepresentation, as portrayed in a press statement of 18 June, of the discussions that took place on Friday 17 June."

The release said: "The Board submitted that the adjudication should be confined to determining whether the existing personal endorsement contracts with Cable and Wireless, were, or might be, in breach of the earlier interpretation of Clause 1(k) by Justice Saunders. WIPA stated that their dissatisfaction went beyond Clause 1(k) and that they wished to have addressed as well the issues raised by Clause 5 of the proposed Sri Lanka match/tour contract along with such wider issues as the propriety of the board's contract with Digicel and the consequences for the players of provisions of that contract.

As there was no agreement on the scope of the terms of reference, the adjudicator proposed that the two parties meet with a professional mediator to discuss the differences, identify the issues separating the parties and agree a mechanism for resolution. This, he said would allow the tour to Sri Lanka to proceed.

Both sides agreed to this proposal, however WIPA insisted that the matter of Clause 5 should be included in those discussions and should it not be settled in that forum, the issue should be brought back to Justice Saunders for a binding determination before the tour to Sri Lanka." The release further charged that, "WIPA declined to give an unequivocal undertaking that the tour should proceed unless the board agreed to that process."

The WICB said they proposed that the issue of Clause 5 be submitted immediately to the adjudicator for a binding determination while the tour proceeded under similar terms and conditions to the match/tour contract that the players had signed prior to the recently concluded Digicel Home Series against South Africa and Pakistan without prejudice to any ongoing dispute resolution measures being undertaken.

The Adjudicator advised that he would not be able to look at the issue immediately and would only be willing to provide a provisional ruling if it was sent back to him following the meeting with the mediator which was agreed for Tuesday June 21.

The WICB submitted that there would be insufficient time to resolve the issue before the tour if that process was followed and that in any event, this was not the type of issue that would helpfully lend itself to a provisional ruling.

Brathwaite pointed out that depending on the ruling, there might have to be further negotiations with the team sponsors Digicel before the team could leave. This, he said could potentially delay or cancel the tour at a time when all arrangements were already in place."

The release concluded by saying that the WICB was still "committed to completing all aspects of the negotiations with WIPA" and that they are in the process of formalising a new proposal to WIPA with respect to Retainer Contracts to present at the next meeting.

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