Zim Cricket spurns ICC bailout


ZIMBABWE CRICKET (ZC) have turned down a proposed bailout from the International Cricket Council (ICC), but confirmed it will restructure its organisation with a view to reducing expenses as it attempts to climb out of debt.

This follows several months of discussions between the ZC and the ICC over ZC’s finances, during which a primary application for a loan was first turned down in January, which was followed by an ICC visit and a bailout offer made with conditions of cost cutting and key administrative changes.

ESPNcricinfo understands the ICC, who did not comment on the matter, were willing to provide ZC with a conditional loan of up to $16 million, including an immediate $10,8 million to writeoff amounts owed to two banks with an agreement by ZC to restructure radically, trim down their organisation and operate under an administrator.

ZC did not deny the existence of a bailout or give reasons as to why it had been turned down.

“This is a matter of strict confidentiality between ZC and the ICC,” Lovemore Banda, ZC’s media and communication manager, speaking on behalf of chairman Peter Chingoka, said.

“We have a business plan which is driven by restructuring and whose key dynamic is to cut down on costs.”

It is believed an introduction of an ICC-appointed and backed administrator is thought to have been the major reason for ZC’s reluctance and ultimate refusal to agree to the deal, although ZC would not confirm that.

Estimates have put ZC in the region of $18 million in the red and their debts continue to mount. That was the primary reason ZC approached the ICC for financial assistance in January.

Then, ZC applied for a loan of $19 million, which the ICC board failed to approve. Instead, they supplied ZC with $3 million to end a player strike that had dragged on from December, restart domestic cricket in the country and adequately prepare the national side for the World T20 (T20).

ICC chief executive officer (CEO) Dave Richardson and chief financial officer Faisal Hasnain were also directed to visit Zimbabwe to assess the situation in the country. Their trip, which took place in March, made several recommendations for reducing ZC’s expenses.

According to The Herald newspaper those included substantial job cuts.

The newspaper said that the ICC report into ZC’s finances, following the visit by Richardson & Hasnain, suggested that the number of contracted players across the board would be reduced from 99 to 56 – 14 per franchise.

Information has since surfaced that the number could be as low as 10 per franchise. Those contracts, which come up for renewal at the end of this month, would only run for the duration of the cricket season.

The franchise adminstration would also be cut, with one source indicating there would no longer be franchise CEOs, but one overall franchise administrator.

Only 15 players would be on year-round national contracts with The Herald quoting the ICC’s report as warning players of the fragile economic climate around them.

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

The newspaper indicated player payments were a major contributor to ZC’s costs, with members of the squad earning a total of $412 000 for the three matches they played in the preliminary round of the World T20.

That promoted a response from the Zimbabwean Professional Cricketers’ Association (ZPCA) in which they revealed they are yet to receive the funds.

“Players are yet to be paid that much by ZC. We challenge ZC to produce proof of payment to that effect so that the world can see. We agreed to the $412 000 figure to include appearance and match fees for both the participating players and the other 15 remaining. ZC are signatory to this agreement,” the statement said.

The ZPCA also said the players had “lost trust in the administration,” and “were and are still underpaid”.

They vowed to continue demanding a quarter of the proceeds ZC earn from World Cup events – which the ZPCA had previously wanted as a guarantee for player salaries for a year – and urged ZC to “adopt the ICC bailout plan immediately”.

– ESPNCricinfo