Newly elected president of Cricket West Indies (CWI) Ricky Skerritt is holding out hope that “severe cash flow issues” which have led to long-delayed payments to players and staff as well as extreme frustration for creditors, should be eased soon.
Skerritt, who was elected last month, replacing Jamaican Dave Cameron at a high-profile election in Kingston, told the Jamaica Observer in a brief telephone interview yesterday that an upcoming bond issue should help to ease money worries.
Skerritt, a former West Indies team manager and St Kitts and Nevis Cabinet minister, said the bond issue which has been in the making for more than a year should be ready to “go to market” by the end of April.
The new president said increased earnings from broadcast rights, etc, presumably related to the recent England tour of the Caribbean, will help. While he made no specific mention of it, India’s tour of the Caribbean mid-year is also expected to prove profitable.
Crucially, Skerritt said, Cricket West Indies will be cutting expenditures on all but “cricket essential activities” as part of the process going forward.
Against a backdrop of delayed match fee payments for players in the recently concluded regional four-day cricket tournament, Skerritt said CWI’s chief financial officer Barry Thomas had been instructed to pay immediate attention to those issues.
“I have made it clear to the chief financial officer that players need to be given priority … players’ fees must be given the highest priority as he looks at his list of payables,” Skerritt said.
Reliable sources say that up to this week, match fees — amounting to US$1,300 per player per match — had been paid only for the first round of the four-day competition played late last year. Payment for that was made last month, sources say.
There was relief yesterday, with assurances reportedly reaching regional administrative offices that match fee payments for players up to the fifth round of the four-day competition will be paid over in the next few days. The 10-round competition ended last month.
Apart from players, CWI staff, including coaches and development officers, often endure long delays before being paid, sources say.
Players’ match fees are separate from monthly payments to professionals contracted to CWI. Sources say US$27,500 is allocated monthly by CWI to regional boards for contract payments to players ranging from US$1,000 for those on development contracts to US$2,500 for those with ‘A’ contracts.
Observer sources say that because of the cash crunch facing CWI, regional boards have for some time been asked to make payments to players. In the case of the Jamaica Cricket Association, money owed by CWI is said to amount to in excess of US$500,000.
The situation is said to have caused considerable dissatisfaction because of a perception of excessive spending by CWI in a number of other areas.
One alarming report reaching the Observer this week said that one person was being paid US$30,000 per quarter — every three months — on a non-contractual basis, to conduct motivational sessions with staff members of Cricket West Indies in Antigua.
When asked the specific question yesterday, Skerritt declined to confirm or deny that allegation, and also said he would not comment on any other specific claim, even while insisting that all “non-essential” activities had been stopped since the start of his presidency.
“What I can say is that we have put a stop to all non-essential activities … either stopped, postponed, or put lower down the order of priorities,” he said.
During the recent campaign, Skerritt pledged financial thrift and accountability as essential aspects of his presidency.
He told the Observer yesterday that every effort will be made to cut waste and excess spending in every area, including the president’s office.
“I can guarantee you that,” he said.
Cameron had come under fire for what was perceived as excessive spending by his office, despite the existence of a fully staffed secretariat.