The Colonel steps in
It was better late than never for the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) yesterday. A day after the regional one-day tournament, the President's Cup, got started without a title sponsor for a third year running, a deal was sealed to rescue the cash-strapped regional body.
Yesterday, the WICB and the local affiliate of international fast food giants, KFC, signed a three-year sponsorship deal worth $3 million, beginning immediately.
According to Dane Darbasie, CEO of KFC franshice holders Prestige Holdings, the tournament will now be known as the KFC Cup. Darbasie also said the venture was not just being undertaken by the local KFC group, but was being shared with eight affiliates in the region-Jamaica, Barbados, Guyana, St Lucia, St Vincent, St Kitts, Antigua and the Cayman Islands.
"They, like us in Trinidad and Tobago, see this tournament and this sponsorship as important steps to getting the West Indies back to the pinnacle of world cricket," he added. In response, Ellis Lewis, outgoing Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board president and WICB director, said the KFC intervention "could not have come at a better time, given the limited resources at the Board's disposal".
He gratefully added that the KFC sponsorship "gives the game in the region a boost, even as our great sport is currently being buffeted by the winds of controversy".
On that note, Lewis made veiled reference to yesterday's joint statement by the WICB and the West Indies Players Association (WIPA) which pledged to send the best players on the upcoming tour of Australia while the parties continue to attempt to resolve outstanding sponsorship issues.
"And with this contribution to the limited overs competition from KFC," Lewis ventured, "we may well have turned the corner." No details of how the sponsorship money was to be distributed were available yesterday.
The WICB's chief marketing executive Darren Millien said: "Because of the late nature of the signing of this deal, those intricate details of the sponsorship will be worked out within the next 24 hours." Millien said the unsponsored running of the one-day competition had cost the WICB "upwards of US$600,000" in each of the last two years.
The KFC sponsorship will not cover those costs completely each year, but the marketing chief said: "You seldom get a sponsorship that is going to cover all of your costs. It will certainly help to defer some of the costs and allow us to focus on some other cricket-related activities." WICB president Ken Gordon was unavailable for yesterday's announcement at the KFC suite at the Queen's Park Oval since he left yesterday to attend an ICC meeting in Australia.