Windies Cricket hit hard by COVID-19: Staff, player salaries slashed in half

As the impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to be felt across the world of sport, West Indies Cricket has become the latest casualty. (Photo: Firstpost.com)

Cricket West Indies have slashed staff and player incomes in half, in an attempt to remain viable amidst mounting financial troubles due to the global COVID-19 pandemic.

Describing the move as a “temporary measure”, the board said in a statement Friday (May 29) that it “deeply regretted” having to make the cuts but was left with little choice “in the face of debilitating economic challenges which have resulted from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic”.

The measures, adopted following “close consultation with all stakeholders”, will also extend to the funding for territorial boards, territorial board franchises along with the players association, WIPA.

Retainers and allowances for directors and executive management are also being slashed by half.

CWI approved the measures during a board of directors meeting held by teleconference on Thursday, acting on recommendations put forward by its Financial Strategy Advisory Committee established last month and chaired by Jamaica Cricket Association president, Wilford “Billy” Heaven.

The board said it did not envisage the measures lasting beyond “three to six months”.

CWI president Ricky Skerritt said the current environment had required a “huge sacrifice” from the entire West Indies cricket fraternity.

President of Cricket West Indies, Ricky Skerritt (Photo: Cricket West Indies)

“Cricket is the beating heart of our region for many individuals, communities, and economies,” said Skerritt, who recently likened CWI’s finances to a patient in intensive care.

“This pandemic is hurting every West Indian and this decision to cut staff and player incomes has been a very difficult one to make; one that will impact so many members of the cricketing family around the Caribbean.

“This business continuity plan unfortunately requires all stakeholders to make a huge sacrifice, but I am confident that it won’t be long before CWI will be in a position to ensure that the sport we love can restart and be enjoyed once again by the thousands of cricket fans across the region and diaspora.”

CWI’s finances had been ailing for a while, a situation repeatedly highlighted by Skerritt since coming to office last year April. The board’s international broadcasting deal, a major source of its revenue, expired last December and a new one is yet to be negotiated.

With the outbreak of COVID-19 forcing a halt to cricket globally, CWI faces the prospect of having to postpone home tours by South Africa and New Zealand, both of which were expected to be a boon to the organisation’s finances.

Having kept staff, players, coaches and other officials on full pay since the start of the pandemic, chief executive Johnny Grave said the “temporary reduction” in pay was a means of helping to navigate the current crisis.

Johnny Grave, Cricket West Indies CEO

“The effects of this pandemic have been distressing for everyone – the worst crisis of our lifetime – and at present, we cannot be certain when the situation will be rectified,” Grave pointed out.

“We recognize that this will cause financial pain for all our staff, players, coaches and umpires across the Caribbean, but having kept everyone on full-pay since the outbreak in March we have no choice but to take decisive action from next month onwards,” he continued.

According to Grave, CWI’s greatest asset is “our people and players” and while the decision to equally share the temporary reduction, he believes the move is the “best way for us to ensure we get through this crisis and protect our organisation and all the jobs in the system.”

“We will be reviewing the situation regularly with the hope that we can return to normal operations at the earliest opportunity,” he said.