FICA may take legal action against MCL

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES - JANUARY 28: Kyle Mills (2nd L) of Gemini Arabians celebrates with teammates after taking the wicket of Michael Lumb of Libra Legends during the opening match of the Oxigen Masters Champions League 2016 between Libra Legends and Gemini Arabians at the International Cricket Stadium on January 28, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. (Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images)
Shukriya Pakistan

The Federation of International Cricket Association (FICA) is weighing options to take legal action against the organizers of Masters Champions League (MCL) over the non-payment to players that took part in the inaugural edition in the UAE.

As per the initial plan, the MCL had to take place for the next two years as well, however, the possibility of happening that looks bleak now as FICA is threatening to take legal actions against the organizers on behalf of more than 50 players.

Tony Irish, the executive chairman of FICA has also called for forming “an international dispute resolution body and contract enforcement mechanism in cricket.”

Irish talked to ESPNCricinfo and said that MCL has lost the credibility for sure. He further said, “The failure to honour contracts sends a strong message. It is not a straightforward process to bring legal action, but we ensured there were proper player contracts in place and we are looking to coordinate a class action on behalf of 40 or 50 players.”

“We have given the organisers several deadlines and these have not been met. If they want to hold an event next year, they have a lot of ground to make-up. I think players will look at what happened in the first year and draw their own conclusions.”

“Despite several undertakings from Mr Shah that outstanding player payments would be made, under a payment plan proposed by MCL, many players have still not received payments due to them several months after the event. Some players have received less than 25% of their fee for an event that finished in February.”

“It’s also extremely disappointing that the event organisers have now taken to simply ignoring attempts by FICA, players and player agents to address the situation.”

MCL never had a smooth journey, first they were failed to clarify the definition of retired players to complete satisfaction of the Full Members Board. Some players withdrawn just after playing first game because they didn’t have NOCs.

On the other hand, there were boards like PCB, CSA and WICB, who were not very happy with the time slot chosen for the league as they had their domestic tournaments scheduled during the span and they felt players will leave for the franchise tournament that will fade up their local tournaments.

Players were promised by the organizers that they will be paid as soon as they will reach UAE for the tournament, however, it didn’t happen. In fact, stars threatened to pull off from the tournament as the last moment. Some players were paid 10% of their due amount, some received 25% and got 50% of it.

The ownership structure of all the teams was also not cleared and it created the dispute that who is liable to pay players and who is not. However, the owner of Midwest Hotels, Zafar Shah, whose subsidiary firm is GM Sports, the main organizer, assured players about payment.

Shah guaranteed that all payments will made and he was just waiting for sponsors to pay the dues, which didn’t happen. Zafar is currently avoiding to comment on the current situation.

“We want to see an opportunity for such leagues and we want to see more opportunities for players,” Irish continued. “And that’s why we helped draw-up these contracts and put in place the anti-corruption safeguards you would expect at major events. We wanted to see that everything was done properly. So we feel the set-up of the event was not a worry. The problems have occurred when it has come to payment and, under the terms of the contracts, GM are responsible.

“Systematic breaches of professional player contracts in cricket, such as this, are unacceptable. The MCL was an approved cricket event, under the jurisdiction of the Emirates Cricket Board.

“As part of the ongoing work on the global structure of the game, we will be proposing an international dispute resolution body, and contract enforcement mechanism in cricket. Players, boards, clubs and leagues would all benefit from such a mechanism.”

As there were many loopholes in the initial idea of MCL, ICC is also questioned that why it allowed the league to take place. In reply, Clive Hitchcock, the ICC’s senior operation manager said, “Our decision not to issue a Disapproved Notice was based on the application from MCL which clearly stated that it was an event for retired players only.”