Home » General » World Cup Gravy Train, Zim Cricketers Paid a Fortune for a Failed Mission, ICC Says Jackpot Given to Players ‘Was Too High’

ZIMBABWE’S cricketers pocketed a staggering US$412 000 in just three games, at an average of US$137 333 per match, despite a preliminary round humiliation in Bangladesh last month, in the country’s worst ICC World Twenty20 Cup campaign in history.

Even ICC chief executive David Richardson and chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain noted that the remuneration package struck by Zimbabwe Cricket and representatives of the players, just to ensure that the country would play in Bangladesh, “was too high.”

The 2014 ICC World Twenty20 Cup payment was in addition to the players’ basic salaries, under their current contracts, and wasn’t reached in consultation with the ICC, whose loan was funding the operations, and who would have objected to such an arrangement.

The remuneration deal, thrashed at a time when the ZC hand was tied by the threat of either they gave in to the demands of the Zimbabwe Professional Cricketers Association or the players would boycott the World Cup in Bangladesh, was an arrangement loaded with excesses for an organisation whose coffers were empty.

Zimbabwe were the only ICC Full Member nation that failed to play in the Super 10 of the 2014 ICC World Twenty20 Cup, after a preliminary round elimination, in which they were beaten by Ireland, squeezed a last-ball win over the Netherlands and destroyed United Arab Emirates.

In one Twenty20 World Cup game in Bangladesh, the Zimbabwe cricketers earned more than what the team that wins the domestic Premiership will take home this year, after a marathon nine-month campaign, in the Castle Lager Premier Soccer League.

Sri Lanka were given US$1 million by their board for winning the 2014 Twenty20 World Cup while Zimbabwe Cricket were pressured to give slightly under half that amount to a team that never made it out of the preliminary round stages.

ZC were handed a US$2.5 million loan, repayable from the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015 distributions from where the local organisation is set to earn US$16.3 million, to enable ZC to pay outstanding salaries and all necessary expenses to ensure the national team was adequately prepared for, and would be able to compete, in Bangladesh.

Richardson and Hasnain were mandated by the ICC, as part of the loan provision conditions, to “work with ZC to reduce its existing cost base and bank liabilities, and maximise its revenues, and revise the KPMG prepared business plan, taking into account the further cost reductions, the potential restructuring of ZC’s bank loans and increased revenues for presentation to the FampCA (Finance and Commercial Affairs Committee).”

The two ICC officials spent two days in Harare last month and met the ZC bankers, staff, board members, national coach Andy waller, franchise chief executives and KPMG officials.

The ICC officials then presented a paper which summarised “the grave financial position that ZC currently finds itself in and the options available to the (ICC Development International Ltd) Board, either to provide significant loan facilities or allow ZC to fend for itself, with the very possibility that it will end up going into insolvency.”

The first objective was to ensure that the Zimbabwe team took part at the World Cup in Bangladesh.

“The approved US$2.5m loan was deposited into a separate Barclays Bank account and is being used by ZC as specifically instructed by ICC,” a report tabled at the ICC FampCA Affairs Committee meeting in Dubai last week said.

“To date, all staff and player salary arrears have been settled and the balance is sufficient for ZC to pay its players through to the conclusion of the ICC WT20 2014. Accordingly, the initial objective of management was achieved.

“However, prior to management’s arrival in Harare, the Zimbabwe team had aised ZC that they were not prepared to participate in the ICC WT20 unless immediate arrangements were made to deposit 25 percent of ZC’s forecasted distribution from the ICC WT20 into a trust account for the benefit of securing the National and Franchise players’ remuneration for the remainder of 2014 and 2015.

“Whilst ZC did not agree to this proposal, in order to secure the squad’s participation at the ICC WT20 2014, it agreed a specific remuneration package for the event only. This package was agreed without any prior notice or consultation with the ICC. In summary, it commits ZC to pay the squad a total amount of US$421k in addition to the players’ basic salaries under their current contracts.

“In management’s (Richardson and Haisnan) view the amount agreed was too high.”

The other objective of the ICC was to reduce ZC’s existing cost base with annual operating expenses estimated around US$9 million, excluding interest payments to banks, with the local cricket authorities agreeing to slash their expenses to around US$5m per annum.

The franchises, which had chewed US$12.2 million in handouts from the ZC in four years, would be reduced from four to five with considerable reduction in the costs of running the franchises, of about US$1 million spread across the four entities, and only 14 contracted players per franchise.

As part of the cost-cutting measures, first-class matches were to be reduced from four to three-day matches, ‘B’ team matches would be reduced to two day-day matches and support staff travelling with the national team reduced from seven to four people (manager, coach, assistant coach and physiotrainer).

“There are currently a total of 99 players under contract to ZC, including 10 players, who have national contracts. The contracts expire at the end of July this year,” the report said.

“Due to past non-fulfillment of contractual obligations, there is no trust between the players and ZC. Once that quantum of player remuneration is agreed, measures to safeguard reliable and timely payments to the players should be implemented.

“The players need to better understand the harsh realities of the state of the Zimbabwe economy and the current financial position of ZC.

“ZC has agreed to reduce the number of contracted players from 99 to 56 (i.e 14 per franchise). This will include 15 nationally contracted players. Only the 15 nationally contracted players will be on 12 months contracts. The rest would only be paid during the cricket season.

“The Zimbabwe players have formed a players association and are being aised by FICA (Tony Irish). An affordable deal will need to be negotiated with the players.

“Management (Richardson and Hasnain) has suggested to ZC that it carries bench-marking exercises against what other Boards of associations of similar financial status (Ireland, Scotland, English counties, SA franchises etc) pay their players and how many are paid.”

The ICC noted, in this report, that it faced a tricky situation about dealing with Zimbabwe against a background of the financial challenges, stalking ZC, in a family where some Associate members were sitting on a better financial base and in an environment where the national team’s performance, on the international stage, was in no way better than those in the lower tier.

“Other Members, particularly other Non-Full Members who have traded solvently and made significant ‘on-field’ progress (e.g Afghanistan, Ireland) may well raise valid concerns about the value of exposing the ICC to such risks to protect a Full member whose current performances on the field are no better than a top Associate Member,” reads the report.

“It is also questionable whether ZC actually fulfils the requirements that another Associate Member would need to meet if it applied for Full Member status of the ICC.

“The question has to be asked whether ZC is able to sustain itself as a Full Member.”

Tomorrow, we report exclusively on what the ICC report said about Zimbabwe’s Test status. Is there a possibility of the financial challenges leading to a suspension of that Test status and what does the future hold for the game?

Source : The Herald