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July 9, 2009
The West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) has accused the West Indies board of not responding to its submission of "marked up" retainer contracts last month and then penalising players for not signing the contracts in time. The board vice-president Dave Cameron, on the other hand, said contracts had not been signed because of the WIPA's "unreasonable behaviour".
On Tuesday, the WIPA announced a boycott by the original squad of the first Test against Bangladesh starting on Thursday and said the players had played for four successive tournaments without receiving contracts. The players' body has released what it claims to be the facts, based on meetings with the WICB over the last four months.
On its website, the WIPA says that on March 24 and March 25, the WICB and WIPA met and made proposals with regard to fees for retainer contracts. The board proposed that the most pressing issue was the contracts and fees of first-class players and suggested that this form the agenda of the next meeting. It stated that in April, the two reached an agreement on retainers and fees and the WIPA received a draft copy of the retainer contract; it was asked by the board "to provide documentation with regards to the players Intellectual Property Rights and Image Rights which WIPA did".
Later that month the WIPA "submitted to the WICB what was agreed by the parties on April 2nd 2009 which included the retainer fees among other things". A week after this, the board responded "confirming agreement including the fees relating to the retainer contracts". In May the board told the WIPA it would be willing to discuss the contracts "after it had received the marked up version from WIPA".
The WIPA claims it submitted a marked-up version of the retainer contract to board official Alanna Medford but received no response for a month. WIPA said it did not get a reply after writing to Medford in June that the players were keen to sign the contracts. On June 17, WIPA said, it received an email, also sent to West Indies captain Chris Gayle, from WICB chief financial officer Barry Thomas in which he said: "I would like to address the issue of retainers and wish to point out that the time for signing retainers has passed. Our major sponsor has withheld three (3) quarterly sponsorship payments for October 2008, January 2009 and April 2009 respectively totalling USD 3,000,000 as a consequence of the delay in signing retainer contracts. We have been penalized for not delivering central contracts in the required timeframe. These contracts are required to be signed so that they take effect from October 1st of each contract year." The WIPA said it sent a letter to the WICB president Julian Hunte demanding an explanation for the email but did not receive a reply.
Cameron said each year since the contracts were agreed, WIPA wanted to make changes to the standard agreed form. "They are not prepared to agree on any contracts unless the changes demanded by them are incorporated," Cameron said. According to him, only 16 contracts were signed which did not include "most of the senior players".
On July 8 WIPA president Dinanath Ramnarine said the decision to pull out of the series came after the latest talks with the WICB failed to resolve several issues. "They are now being asked to play their fifth consecutive series without a contract, which is highly unacceptable," Ramnarine said. "When a player called me last week and asked what was the position with regards to his injury while playing cricket for the West Indies in the just concluded Twenty20 World Cup, my response was that was there was no written contract in place and therefore any action that would have to be taken would have to be taken in that context. Professional sportsmen should not be allowed to play any sport that has such a high risk without the necessary protection."
Hunte said the Test would go on despite the boycott and a second-string squad, which included nine uncapped players, was announced shortly before the start of the game. Hunte told Reuters there had been "a lot of intimidation of players" but refused to elaborate on who had intimidated which players.
Shortly before leaving, Gayle apologised to fans on his Twitter page. "Heading home, sorry to all the cricket fans - this is the last thing we want to happen to the game. Need respect and stop taking us for granted!!"
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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