Wed | Sep 30, 2020

Enough is enough! - Regional players hit out at late payment of salaries

Published:Sunday | December 1, 2019 | 7:02 AMLennox Aldred - Sunday Gleaner Writer

As the 2019 regional cricket season comes to a close with just the Super50 Cup to be decided, there is trouble brewing among the franchise players, who are calling out Cricket West Indies (CWI) for the late payment of retainer salaries, a problem, which they claim has existed for about a year.

CWI president Ricky Skerritt admitted to The Sunday Gleaner that the problem exists, but warned that current cash flow issues with the organisation meant that there was no short term solution.

There are currently 90 players across the six franchises under regional retainer contracts, which range from A to development categories.

Players with ‘A’ category contracts, earn US$32,000 per year (J$4.3 million), which works out to US$2,666 per month (J$359,000), while ‘B’ contract players earn $US24,000 (J$3.2 million) per year or US$2000 (J$269,000) per month. Players on ‘C’ contracts take home US$18,000 (J$2.4 million) per annum or US$1,500 (J$201,000) on a monthly basis, with Development players contracted at US$12,000 (J$1.6 million) per year or US$1,000 (J$134,000) per month.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one player, who represents the Jamaica Scorpions franchise, struggled to recall the last time he received his salary on time, pointing out that the inconsistency – with salaries being late by weeks and months in some instances, leads to constant embarrassment and debt.

“We have bills to pay just like everybody else and we have needs as well. I can’t remember when we got our pay on time and it is very frustrating. Remember most of us play cricket for a living and it is our only source of income, so when we don’t get our money on time, we are always in crisis,” the player argued, before sharing that the situation has caused him to reconsider his future in the sport.

“We are always going to be in debt because of this and I am even considering my future as a professional cricketer because this cannot continue. I have friends who play in New Zealand in their professional system and they get paid twice a month: at the start and the end of the month and they have never had this kind of issue. If for some reason they do have a delay in payment, their players’ association are right on it immediately,” he added.

West Indies Players Association president Wavell Hinds could not be reached for comment.

Meanwhile, similar sentiments were shared by another player with Test experience, who represents the Windward Islands franchise.

“It’s frustrating, to say the least,” the cricketer lamented. “It affects all of us, especially if you relocate to play for another franchise. The cricket authorities ask us to be professional, yet they are not professional, this cannot go on any longer!”

CWI Aware

Meanwhile, CWI boss Skerritt conceded that the problem will continue in the coming months, but noted that the governing body has communicated the situation to the respective franchises and is working to rectify the matter as soon as possible.

“We have said it openly that we are having a cash flow problem and this has been the case for some months now. When we came in office, we were US$22 million in deficit and it has been difficult to balance the books. We are working to try and pay off our debts and cut cost and what we have been doing is focusing on investing only in cricket-related projects for the moment,” Skerritt told The Sunday Gleaner.

The regional franchises – Jamaica Scorpions, Trinidad and Tobago Red Force, Barbados Pride, Leeward Islands Hurricanes, Guyana Jaguars and Windward Islands Volcanoes, are paid monthly by CWI.

In the meantime, immediate past CWI president, Dave Cameron said the cash flow, cash reserves problems have always been an issue with the association as he faced the same scenario when he took over the office in 2013.

“When I came in to office we were US$6 million in the red and we never complained. We had to come up with innovative measures to balance the books and turn things around. The truth of the matter is, CWI will always find themselves in cash flow problems because they aren’t generating any money, it is only when we play countries like India, Australia and England that you might see some funds. We had a five-year plan that would have put CWI in a better place but the stakeholders didn’t buy into our philosophy and the rest is history,” said Cameron.

The 2020 regional season gets under way in January with the Four Day championships.