André Lowe, Senior Staff Reporter
West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) President Whycliffe 'Dave' Cameron noted that a new Memorandum of Understanding and Collective Bargaining Agreement with the West Indies Players' Association (WIPA) is close to being agreed, as his administration moves to transfer improved relations with the regional players into greater commercial leverage for West Indies cricket.
In a historic development, some 60 players will be offered retainer contracts in January and the WICB/WIPA 'Kumbaya' was also evident at the Players Award in July, which for the first time in history was hosted collaboratively by both bodies.
The WICB will also be establishing the West Indies Retired Players Association - an initiative geared at increasing the involvement of former regional cricketers.
The WICB and the representative body have, in the past, crossed swords in several well-documented disputes over player contracts, among other things, as well as issues with top players like Chris Gayle.
However, Cameron, who replaced Julian Hunte in the presidential seat in March, has been making an effort to patch the holes and bring both organisations closer, with a view of creating a stronger overall West Indies cricket product.
"You will notice that we have not had any public spat with our players' association," Cameron told The Gleaner. "This, I think, I'm most encouraged about, because at the heart of the sport are the players. The relationship I believe is evolving positively. As a matter of fact, we have been able to settle a number of matters out of court, clearing the way for a new MOU/CBA.
"Starting in January, at least 60 players will have regional retainer contracts for the first time. We will also ensure that the support staff is in place in the territories as well," Cameron added. "I intend to keep building on this relationship, as a matter of priority, and as time goes on there's more to come."
Cameron is certain that a better working relationship between the WICB and WIPA will allow both to take full advantage of the commercial potential of West Indies cricket.
"I've been in finance for over 15 years, and one of the things I know to be true is that it takes cash to care. The WICB had a projected deficit for the year 2012-2013 and that's a situation that I do not intend to return to under my leadership. Going forward, it is our mission to ensure that we have the necessary revenues to ensure the continued development of the sport in all its aspect," Cameron underlined.
"One of the big opportunities for increasing revenues lies in merchandising rights and licensing. We have not really been able to tap into this area for a number of reasons, but one of the biggest impediments was the negative atmosphere that existed between the players and the board. Remember, the players are who sell merchandise. Now that we're improving those relations, I expect we will be better able to pursue those opportunities," Cameron said.
Sixteen Windies players are currently here partaking in a team-building exercise organised by the WICB.