Pandemic forced us to borrow money to pay staff, players: CWI president Ricky Skerritt

Pandemic forced us to borrow money to pay staff, players: CWI president Ricky Skerritt

Ricky Skerritt has stated that under his leadership, the CWI has managed to improve its financial condition.

Ricky Skerritt
Ricky Skerritt. (Photo by Hamish Blair/ALLSPORT)

Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerritt has revealed the financial trouble the board faced when he took charge two years ago. The outbreak of the pandemic halted action around the world in March last year. Cricket finally resumed in July when the West Indies tour England for a three-match Test series. After that, they toured New Zealand as well as Bangladesh.

At present, they are hosting Sri Lanka. The ongoing series against Sri Lanka is West Indies’ first home series since the pandemic struck. And while West Indies team has been playing consistently amid the pandemic, things are not so smooth behind the scenes. Skerritt, who is aiming to be re-elected after a two-year term as CWI president, has revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic forced the board to borrow money to pay players and staff wages.

At the same time, Skerritt pointed out that CWI’s debt has reduced to a third in his tenure. Talking about the state of CWI finances, Skerritt said they have improved significantly since he took over. He revealed that the board had to borrow money in order to meet the wage demands of the staff and the players. He stated that the practice continued till last year.

“The biggest problem we were facing is that all of our future cash was spoken for before we even got it. We were living on borrowed future income. So, we had close to USD 20 million in institutional debt. And we were borrowing to pay back lenders. It was all smoke and mirrors. And that’s understandable on short-term strategies when there are difficult times for cash flow. But it had become endemic,” Skerritt told ‘ESPNcricinfo’.

“So we’ve been having to tighten belts, focus on cash rather than on profit and loss and get rid of any sort of unnecessary costs. And we’ve cut our debt down by at least a third now after less than two years. And, with some difficulty, we have improved our ability to meet our obligations, we just could not meet most of our obligations (previously). We were borrowing money to pay wages. We did that for the first year that I was in office. Right up until the early summer last year we were literally having to borrow to just pay players and staff,” he added.

‘Pandemic made everything more devastating’

Speaking further, Ricky Skerritt said that the pandemic ‘made everything more devastating’. He, however, also stated that the pandemic gave CWI the opportunity to focus more on the task at hand. he pointed out the 50 percent pay cut received by the CWI stakeholders. Skerritt is also hopeful that the CWI would be in a better place regarding their aim once the pandemic is over.

“The pandemic made everything more devastating. But it also gave us an opportunity and an excuse to focus on what we really needed to focus on…getting all stakeholders to understand that it would take sacrifices from all of us, including a 50 per cent pay cut for everybody. The pandemic forced us to do more with even less. And I think that, in the final analysis, we’re going to come out of the pandemic more informed and better aware of what’s needed going forward,” said Ricky Skerritt.