The following statement was issued by Teddy Griffith, the West Indies Cricket Board president, on March 4, 2005



Teddy Griffith © Getty Images
Over the past several months, a number of issues surrounding West Indies Cricket has generated significant public comment. Central to these issues has been the relationship of the West Indies Cricket Board with the West Indies Players' Association. There has also been avid discussion surrounding the Board's sponsorship arrangements

During this period, the Board has consciously refrained from conducting in public its negotiations with the West Indies Players' Association since, in its judgement, such an action would merely have served to harden positions around public stances, thereby rendering resolution even more difficult. Now, however, with the imminent commencement of the Digicel 2005 Home Series at the end of March, we have reached the stage where it is imperative that the Board's position on the various issues be stated.

Before I comment specifically on the two issues, let me first give an overview of the financial condition of the West Indies Cricket Board.

The last occasion on which the Reserves of the West Indies Cricket Board were positive was in 1999, when the Board reported a Surplus of US$2.8 million.

As a result of cumulative losses of US$16.0 million - US$5.4 million, US$7.7 million and US$2.9 million - in the next three financial years, the Board's financial position had deteriorated to a deficit position of US$13.2 million by September 30, 2002. Profits generated in the 2003 and 2004 financial years have assisted in reducing the deficit to US$8.1 million at September 2004.

The budgeted loss of $5.9 million in the current financial year will increase the company's cumulative deficit to US$14.0 million by September 30, 2005.

As a consequence of these poor financial results, the Board has operated for the majority of the period between 2000 and today under severe cash flow constraints. Indeed, as recently reported, the Board faces an unfunded cash deficit of an order of US$2.0 million during this current financial year.

It is against this background that the Board has been negotiating, for the past several months, with the West Indies Players' Association to conclude a Collective Labour Agreement, a Memorandum of Understanding, a Retainer Contract and a Match/Tour Contract. While agreement has been reached, in principle, on the Collective Labour Agreement and Memorandum of Understanding, and considerable progress has been made in agreeing the contents of the Match/Tour Contract, the parties have been unable to reach agreement on the financial terms attaching to the Retainer Contract.

Let us look at each element individually.

Retainer Contract
The Retainer is a guaranteed payment to the player for the period of the Retainer contract, typically a year. The payment is designed, among other things, to allow the contracted player to focus on his cricket year round whether or not he is selected to play for the West Indies team. Another impact of the retainer contract is to provide greater security for the contracted player in the event of injury.

The Board's proposal for compensation of players under contract consists of three (3) categories, as follows:

WICB offer WIPA offer
Category A+ NA 110,000
Category A 79,200 135,000
Category B 31,680 50,000
Category C 26,400 35,000
Based on the above and assuming a Retained Squad of sixteen (16) players the annual cost of the WICB proposal would be US$712,800 as against US$1,035,000 being proposed by WIPA - a difference of US$322,200 annually, or 45% above the WICB offer.

Match Fees
The Match Fee is the amount, over and above the Retainer Contract fee, received by each player selected to play for the West Indies Team in a Test Match or a One Day International.

The Board's proposal for compensation to players by way of Match Fees under a Retainer Contract arrangement is again based on three (3) categories, as follows:

WICB offer Test ODI WIPA offer Test ODI
Category A+ NA NA 6000 2500
Category A 3600 1440 5000 2000
Category B 3000 1200 4000 1500
Category C 2500 1000 3000 1200

Based on the above and assuming a squad of sixteen (16) players playing 16 test matches and 27 ODIs, as for example in the year 2003/2004, the annual cost of the WICB proposal would be US$1.3 million as against US$1.7 million being proposed by WIPA- a difference of US$0.4 million annually and 32.5% above the WICB offer.

Appearance Fees
Unlike the arrangement with its previous sponsors which covered only the Home Series Sponsorship engaged in annually by the West Indies Cricket team, the Board has negotiated a sponsorship with Digicel to cover both Home and Away Series engaged in by the West Indies Cricket Team and the West Indies "A" Team.

The average net sponsorship amount of US$3.4 million to be received by the West Indies Cricket Board annually over the five years of the agreement is used to assist in defraying the cost of hosting the annual Home Series, including match fees paid to the Team, travel and match fee costs for the West Indies team when on tour, the cost of the Regional Four Day and One Day Tournaments and other programmes for the development of West Indies cricket.

In addition, the sponsorship provides up to US$1.7 million annually in incentives for the West Indies Team to be earned on performance. This is a change from the previous sponsorship where 54% of the US$ 725,000 in incentives provided by the sponsor were guaranteed and paid in exchange for exposure of the sponsor's brand on and off the field of play.

Moreover, in the recently completed VB Series, the Board agreed to make a payment of US$200,000 from its own resources so as to permit that tour to proceed. It was clearly understood at the time that the parties would work towards negotiating a formula on the basis of which Appearance Fees would be paid over the period of the Digicel contract rather than by individual tours as happened in the case of the Australian VB series.

The Board has proposed that 17% of the net average annual sponsorship value, or US$573,750 per annum, be allocated for distribution to Player Appearance fees.

The West Indies Players' Association has countered with a proposal that US$960,000 or 28% of the Board's net average annual sponsorship value, should be allocated to Players' Appearance Fees.

In summarising the above positions, assuming a squad of 16 players playing 16 Test matches and 27 ODIs, as for example in the year 2003/2004, the overall annual cost of the Board's proposal is US $2.6 million which is 13.7 percent of the Board's average 3 year revenue over the period 2004/5-2006/7.

The cost of WIPA's proposal is US$3.7 million or 19.7 percent of the Board's average 3-year revenue over the same period. In dollar figures this represents an additional expenditure commitment of US$1.1 million annually which the Board cannot afford.

When the full earning capacity of the players is taken into consideration, a player's potential annual earnings under the Board's proposal would be by far the highest ever enjoyed by players representing the West Indies and would continue to place the players in the top one percent of income earners in the Caribbean.

For the purposes of example only, comparison of the top categories proposed by the Board and WIPA (Category A and Category A+ respectively) , based on playing 16 Test matches and 27 ODIs in a year as in 2003-4, would produce the following annual compensation:

WICB offer WIPA offer
Retainer 79,200 135,000
Test 57,600 96,000
ODI 38,800 135,000
Appearance 35,860 60,000
Total 211,540 426,000

By comparison, a Category C WICB player and a Category C WIPA player, based on similar criteria, would earn:

WICB offer WIPA offer
Retainer 26,400 35,000
Test 40,000 48,000
ODI 27,000 32,400
Appearance 35,860 60,000
Total 129,260 175,400

Income to be earned by each player from the performance related incentive of up to US$1.7 million annually has not been included in above analyses.

On February 21, 2005, the Board advised the West Indies Players' Association that the divide between the parties in respect of the financial terms of the Retainer Contract and related matters remained so wide that priority should be given to finalizing by February 25, 2005 the terms for the Digicel 2005 Home Series and to negotiating a formula for the allocation for Player Appearances whilst negotiations on the Retainer Contract related matters continued.

To effect this, the Board proposed:

  • That the Match/Tour Contract used in the VB Tour to Australia should be modified to replace the temporary Clause 5, inserted specifically for that tour, with the new Clause 5 on which substantial agreement had been reached by the two parties;
  • That the current, prevailing scale of match/tour fees should apply; and
  • That the formula for payment for player compensation for commercial obligations undertaken during the term of the contract be set at 17% of the net sponsorship fee received from Digicel.
  • On March 2nd 2005, the Board received a response from the West Indies Players' Association which, while raising some issues with Clause 5 of the Match/ Tour Contract proposed by the Board for the upcoming Digicel 2005 Home Series versus South Africa and Pakistan, was silent on the matter of the Match/Tour Fees and the Appearance Fees.

    In its letter of February 1, 2005 the Board indicated to WIPA that priority be given to finalizing discussions on the terms of the Match/Tour Contract for the upcoming Home Series by February 18, 2005. In the Board's letter of February 21, 2005 sent by e-mail to the West Indies Players' Association on February 22, the Board again asserted that priority should be given to finalizing the terms of the Match/Tour Contract for the upcoming Home Series by February 25, 2005 since the parties remained far apart on the financial terms associated with the Retainer Contract.

    The Board's letter of February 21 was followed up by a letter dated February 24, 2005, sent by email on that date, in which the Board amended its letter of February 21 to provide greater clarity as to the Board's proposal.

    Taking all the above into consideration as well as the need to finalize contractual arrangements with the South African and Pakistan Cricket Boards by March 14, 2005 for the Digicel Home Series commencing later in March, the Board has made the following decision:

  • The selectors have been instructed to name a squad of 25 to 30 players from whom the squad for the Digicel Home Series commencing in March 2005 is to be selected;
  • Each of the above players named by the Selectors is to be sent an invitation to make himself available for selection to the squad under the terms and conditions of the Match/Tour contract for the Australian VB tour, modified to include a new Clause 5 in place of the temporary Clause 5.

    Each invited player will be required to respond to the Board's invitation by Friday 11th March, 2005.

  • The West Indies Players' Association is to be informed of the Board's decision.
  • Let me now move on to the matter of the issues surrounding the delivery of the Board's commitments to its major sponsor, Digicel, under its Master Sponsorship Agreement executed in July 2004.

    The Master Sponsorship Agreement with Digicel represents, by far, the largest sponsorship deal ever contracted by the West Indies Cricket Board.

    Apart from Team and Title Sponsorship for the West Indies Team on a home and away basis, the agreement covers sponsorship of the West Indies "A" Team and commits, subject to contract, to support the development of the game of cricket in the West Indies, by way of an additional US$1.0 million over the period of the contract.

    But, before commenting specifically on the issues surrounding the Digicel Master Sponsorship, it is necessary for me to give a timeline of certain events that occurred in 2003 and early 2004 in relation to the negotiation of the renewal of the Home Series sponsorship contract with Cable & Wireless .

  • In July 2003, WICB and Cable & Wireless commenced discussions re renewal of sponsorship.
  • In September 2003, WICB and Cable & Wireless reached agreement on terms of a new 3-year sponsorship, subject to contract and subject to approval of WICB Board.
  • In November 2003 Cable & Wireless produced a draft contract which was rejected by WICB since conditions not discussed or agreed during negotiations had been included.
  • In December 2003, WICB invoked its rights under the contract to enter into negotiations with third parties.
  • On March 1, 2004, WICB, having obtained an offer of alternative sponsorship, and in compliance with the Cable & Wireless sponsorship contract, called on Cable & Wireless to exercise its first option rights and take up the sponsorship on the same terms as the third party offer.
  • On March 2, 2004 Cable &Wireless requested the name of the third party sponsor which WICB declined to supply. At same time, WICB granted Cable & Wireless an extension of time to make a decision to match the offer made by the third party.
  • On March 16, 2004, Cable & Wireless formally declined to exercise its first option rights.
  • In May 2004, during the 2004 Home Series, the Board became aware that some of its players had either signed or were in the process of signing endorsement contracts with Cable and Wireless. The Board met with the players and advised them that Cable & Wireless had opted not to renew its sponsorship of the Home Series and the West Indies team after declining to match an alternative offer received by the Board. The players were advised that negotiations were at a critical stage with a competing sponsor within the telecommunications sector and that the signing of an agreement was imminent.

    On the same day of the Board's meeting with the players, the Board received official communication from Cable & Wireless that they had entered into personal endorsements with Omari Banks, Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul.

    On August 1 of 2004, the Board wrote to Dwayne Smith, Dwayne Bravo, Fidel Edwards and Ravi Rampaul and also to Chris Gayle and Ramnarace Sarwan, who were reported to have been also contracted, and requested sight of these contracts, minus financial information. The Board also wrote to Brian Lara who had announced the renewal of an endorsement contract with Cable & Wireless during the West Indies Tour to England and requested that he furnish a copy of his contract, minus financial information, for examination.

    The Board's purpose in so doing was to seek to ensure that the contracts did not impose on the players any obligations which could cause them or the WICB to be in breach of the sponsorship contract which had been executed between the WICB and Digicel. This against the background of a clause, Clause 1 (k), in the Board's Match/Tour Contract, which in the Board's view, required any player under contract to the WICB to pass to the WICB for review any personal endorsement contracts the contracted player was contemplating entering into.

    The players, through the West Indies Players' Association, declined to provide the contracts for inspection.

    In November 2004, the West Indies Cricket Board and the West Indies Players' Association met in Grenada with the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket at the invitation of the Prime Minister of Grenada, in an attempt to resolve issues that had emerged and that were threatening the upcoming tour by the West Indies to Australia.

    The Prime Ministerial Sub Committee, in consultation with WICB and WIPA, agreed that WICB and WIPA would submit briefs by Friday 3rd December for the development of Terms of Reference for engagement of an independent adjudicator to be appointed by the Prime Ministerial Sub Committee to render a binding decision on the interpretation of Clause 1K of previous WICB Match/Tour contracts. Both parties were instructed to use their best efforts to make available to the adjudicator all relevant contracts.

    In December of 2004, the Adjudicator appointed by the CARICOM Sub-Committee on Cricket issued a ruling that a personal endorsement contract entered into by a player could be viewed as legitimately done if this contract were entered into by the player in his individual capacity, that is not as a member of the West Indies Team.

    The WICB accepted this ruling.

    The Board however clearly indicated that since the endorsement contracts had not been submitted to the Adjudicator for inspection, there were a number of issues still unresolved and that it had agreed to the terms and conditions outlined for the tour to Australia for the VB Series on the basis that some of the terms and conditions were applicable only for that tour.

    High among the Board's concerns, in order that it not commit an involuntary breach of its sponsorship agreement with Digicel, was that there be a determination whether the personal endorsement contracts entered into by seven West Indies players with Cable and Wireless were unquestionably in the nature of individual contracts and contained no provisions which could be construed as passing off by the player of his connection with the West Indies team by attribution or by defining himself as a member of the team.

    The Board again requested of the Chairman of the CARICOM Sub Committee on Cricket that the contracts in question be submitted for review by the Adjudicator to establish whether they were indeed entered into in the player's individual capacity or relied on the player's membership of the West Indies Team. Again, the Board's purpose in so doing was to seek to ensure that the contracts did not impose on the players any obligations which could cause them or the WICB to be in breach of the sponsorship contract which had being executed between the WICB and Digicel

    To the best of the Board's knowledge, neither the players nor Cable and Wireless have submitted the contracts in question for review.

    While this matter was being addressed and in what it felt to be the best interests of West Indies Cricket, the WICB agreed to proceed on the VB Series Tour to Australia with one further caveat. It requested of Prime Minister Mitchell, Chairman of CARICOM's Sub-Committee of Cricket, that he intervene with Cable and Wireless to gain assurance that in the absence of sight of the players' contracts with Cable & Wireless, nothing would be done by Cable & Wireless to jeopardise the sponsorship deal which the Board had entered into with Digicel.

    The Prime Minister indicated to the Board that in his discussion with Cable & Wireless, he had been "assured that Cable & Wireless would do nothing in the future to display any advertisement, both in the electronic and print form, to give the impression that any relationship between itself and any of the players (both individually and collectively) is in their capacity as members of the West Indies Cricket team".

    In the event, as is clear to the Caribbean public, every opportunity has been taken to use the images of the Cable and Wireless contracted players in ways which trade on their membership of the West Indies Team, refer to them as members of a team and make many references to West Indies Cricket.

    These occurrences have placed the WICB in a position which compromises its ability to deliver on its commitments to Digicel. It should be noted that the Digicel sponsorship not only benefits those players who are fortunate enough to gain selection to the West Indies team but in fact contributes to every level of West Indies Cricket.

    The Board cannot allow the whole structure of West Indies cricket to be put in peril as a result of individual contracts which will profit a few players on the West Indies team as opposed to bringing benefit to the entire West Indies cricket family.

    Therefore, in a situation where the players concerned have repeatedly refused to share with the WICB the non-financial provisions of their contract with Cable and Wireless and where the continued exploitation of these players images may cause the WICB to be in breach of its obligations to its sponsor, the Board has been left with no alternative but to agree to the following course of action:

    1. Not to consider for selection to the West Indies Cricket Team the players who have personal endorsement contracts with Cable & Wireless - Bravo, Edwards, Gayle, Lara, Rampaul, Sarwan and Dwayne Smith - until such time as the Board can be satisfied that these contracts are unquestionably in the nature of individual contracts and contain no provisions which could be construed as passing off by the player of his connection with the West Indies Team by attribution or by defining himself as a member of the team;

    2. To write to each of the above players to notify them of the Boards decision; and

    3. To inform the West Indies Players' Association of the Boards decision, simultaneously.

    The Board expects the players named by the Selectors to respond to its invitation to make themselves available for the Digicel 2005 Home Series by Friday March 11th so that the Board may decide by March 14 whether the tour is to proceed.

    The world of sport today is inextricably linked with commercial interests. It is fair to say that without significant support from sponsors, the West Indies, or any cricketing nation for that matter will find it almost impossible to fulfil its obligations or to field a competitive team.

    The Digicel sponsorship agreement has given the Board the opportunity to substantially fund the development of cricket generally, which is its mandate. For the first time sponsorship of this nature goes beyond the international team and channels right through to the level of youth cricket, assisting the needed preparation of a future generation of cricketers..

    The Board is committed to develop West Indies cricket for the benefit of the fans and all players throughout the region and accepts its responsibility to take West Indies Cricket to the next level while preserving the integrity of the relationships necessary to secure a long- term prosperous future for all, at all levels of the game.

    Two of the more exciting teams in world cricket, South Africa and Pakistan, come to our shores at the end of this month to take part in the Digicel 2005 Home Series. The Board looks forward to the support of all friends of West Indies Cricket as we continue to prepare for our biggest assignment yet - the Cricket World Cup 2007.