West Indies board loses another battle with players
The WICB had argued that the tour of England fell within the Future Tours Programme and, as such, the players were not entitled to any extra payments for undertaking it. WIPA maintained it was designated on the FTP as an "additional tour" and so had to be separately negotiated.
The arbitration panel's decision hinged on the fact that the board had, until mid January, appeared to agree that the tour was outside the FTP only to do an about turn. As reported by Cricinfo in April, almost three months elapsed before the board raised the issue and it only sat down with WIPA on the eve of the England tour, and immediately the matter was referred to arbitration.
"We conclude that the parties before, and for at least three months after signing the Memorandum Of Understanding, conducted their dealings on the assumption that the tour was outside the FTP," the arbitration read. "If, in reality, it is strictly within the FTP, it would now be inequitable and unconscionable, in the context of those dealings, to hold that the England tour 2007 is within the FTP."
It emerged that the WICB officials who had dealt with the original negotiations relating to the tour believed it outside the FTP, and, more worrying, there appeared to be deep divides between former and current WICB representatives.
The announcement is a serious blow for the WICB. Not only is it the fifth decision which has gone to arbitration to go against them, it also raises major concerns about their relationship with their own players and those players' representatives.
"WIPA is pleased with the decision of the arbitration panel," Dinanath Ramnarine, WIPA's chief executive, said. "We do not want to gloat that this is the fifth occasion that the arbitration panel has adjudicated in favour of WIPA in matters involving the WICB. We are saddened, however, about the fact that despite the clarity of the agreements, much time and money have been expended in having matters resolved through the costly arbitration procedure."
"Both parties gave an undertaking that we would not make public our Press releases on this matter," Tony Deyal, the WICB's corporate services manager, told The Nation. "While we are disappointed, we are not surprised."
This now leaves the WICB in the embarrassing position of having to negotiate contracts relating to a tour which is ongoing with WIPA.
It also has to persuade WIPA to undertake the additional one-day series in Ireland bolted on to the end of the trip - although it is understood the WICB will argue that is part of the England trip. Sources have indicated to Cricinfo that it may well be that players are given the option of playing in Ireland and, if that is the case, some senior squad members may well decide to give it a miss.
And it leaves the A-team tour of Zimbabwe, which WIPA have strongly opposed, almost certainly dead in the water as it too needs to be agreed with players who have made it clear they object to going on security and moral grounds. While a captain and officials have been named, the WICB has still to release the names of the squad itself, raising concerns that they are struggling to find players willing to go.