New financing plan for West Indies cricket

ST JOHN’S, Antigua, October 23, 2006 – With funds from the Caribbean Lottery reduced as a result of a policy decision on online gambling by Trinidad and Tobago, the country has accepted, in principle, a counter-proposal for funding the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) and is now marketing it to other CARICOM members.

So said President of the WICB, Ken Gordon, in his first annual report since taking up office. He said the first 12 months had “been a rewarding experience… unfortunately not financially” where they achieved all their other objectives.

Plans to reduce its US$15 million operating deficit were setback by the decision of Trinidad and Tobago to close down online gambling operations in the country. That affected the WICB’s Caribbean Lottery operations in the twin island republic – one of the largest markets.

Gordon said it was a “major setback” and a “great disappointment” and the project was now being reevaluated.

“Meanwhile, we have submitted an alternative proposal to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago which could have the effect of making up the portion of revenues that would be lost by that country’s non participation in the lottery. I am pleased to advise that almost simultaneously with receiving the news yesterday from my wife on the telephone that we had defeated Australia – for I was locked away at the office preparing this report – I received a call from PM Manning who told me that I was free to say to you this evening that he agrees in principle with our proposal and will be so advising other Heads of CARICOM.”

He said that at the beginning of the financial year there was an operating deficit of USD$6.6M from the previous 12 months. The consolidated deficit when the World Cup activities were discounted was USD$15M and sources for the funding required to keep them in operation had virtually dried up.

“The issue which confronted us was not profit or loss…but survival. Very bitter medicine was required and we took it. In fact, we all owe an important debt of thanks to the Enoch Lewis, Gregory Georges and Avondale Thomas Finance sub committee which was given the task of examining each line item and on the basis of zero budgeting eliminate variable expenses wherever this was possible. They did an excellent job in reducing projected costs by more than some USD$3M. That set the stage for the results which we expect to be confirmed by our Auditors.

“We now expect that as at the end of our financial year in September we would not only have eliminated our USD$6.6.M loss of the previous year but made a small profit of some USD$800,000 . Today, though we continue to have strains on our cash flow, we have moved from the survival mode to the point where we must plan to address the consolidated deficit of USD$15M even as we address the all important issue of development.”

Under his year-long presidency Gordon said that all the other objectives were achieved. These included: the first step toward restructuring the Board; remodeling the Marketing Department with a Sales Department and restructuring the Secretariat; appointing a Cricket Committee of former international players as principal advisors to the Board on Cricket matters; persuading the ICC to review the Future Tours programme; Preparing a development programme for cricket and the hosting of a successful workshop to assist in implementation; entering into special relationships with BCCI, City of Lauderhill, USACA of the United States and CCA of Canada; and completing all outstanding matters with WIPA – the representative players organization.

“I am pleased to say it has been a rewarding experience… unfortunately not financially… but candidly in a much deeper sense. You have provided me with the opportunity to serve the cause of West Indies cricket and the people of the Caribbean. And both are very dear to me. If in doing so, my methods have been different and I have offended anyone along the way, I ask such persons to believe that this has not been intentional but only in the pursuit of a wider objective,” he said.