Azim Bassarath on back foot over club cricket grants

TTCB president Azim Bassarath. - File photo
TTCB president Azim Bassarath. - File photo

Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) president Azim Bassarath said local clubs may not receive grants for the ongoing 2024 season.

In an interview with Newsday on April 8, Bassarath addressed concerns by some clubs over the non-payment of grants.

Henry Chase, chairman of the premier league, on April 5, said the grants were still possible. “We are trying to give Premier II clubs $50,000 and Premier I clubs $100,000,” he said.

But Bassarath said, “We not sure whether the board will be paying grants this year. We not sure at this stage where our finances for the year will bring us.”

Last week Victoria United Sports Club opted out of the reserve competitions. In a letter to the TTCB, Victoria president Daren Ganga complained about a range of issues, including lack of official umpires, lack of financial support and insignificant prize money.

Bassarath chastised Ganga over his complaints, claiming his club's financial troubles were of his own doing.

“If Ganga and them want to bring in foreign players and pay them big money and they can’t meet expenses to pay players what they promise, the TTCB can not and will not facilitate them.”

When Newsday asked Ganga how many foreign players were used in 2024, he said, “We used two foreign players in the league competition. We currently have no foreign players in the 50-over competition.”

Bess Motors Marchin Patriots president Adrian Ali, who also queried the non-payment of grants, said his club registered three foreign players for the 2024 season, but only two played.

He said salaries in his team range from $2,000 to $10,000 per month based on skillset, experience and talent.

He said, “It doesn’t matter whether they’re a foreign player or not. Some foreign players get paid the same as the local players. There’s no need to have foreign players in our league. There is enough talent in TT to be used. TTCB should look at taking out all foreign players from all the leagues and allow the younger players to develop.”

Ganga added that there has not been any regulations in recent years with regards to a salary cap and quotas for team with regards to experienced and foreign players.

“There is a disparity in wealth across clubs in TT.

“Cricket and its premise is based on the financial strength of its entities. Cricket in TT is not a sport for all any more. The board has created this disproportion because over the years there's not been regulations in place to make it an even-playing (field) for all the clubs – limits to players' salary, quota of national players.”

Possible sanctions for Victoria

TTCB’s general secretary Altaf Baksh responded to Victoria United’s letter on April 6, saying that their non-participation in the reserve competition will result in sanctions.

Baksh referenced article 36 of the board’s constitution which states that all premier league division teams are required to field a first team and a second team.

Baksh said in the letter, “There will be a penalty if there is a breach on this.”

He added, “Amendments to the regulations took place last year, so this is the first season that it’ll come into effect.”

However, Ganga remains firm on his initial decision to not participate.

“That response doesn’t take into consideration that we have no money to field a reserve team. If we have no money, we can’t play cricket. We were promised grants from the TTCB and we haven’t received word on when it would be paid.”

Baksh is still optimistic the grants would be paid. He said, “We are awaiting the Sport and Culture (fund) and it shouldn’t be too long from now. We have been in communication with Sport Company and hopefully it will come soon.”

When Newsday asked Bassarath about the partnership with the Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) and the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) for the upcoming T20 festival and if there would be an increase in prize money, he said, “This has already been communicated to clubs (2023 prize money to be used).”

Ganga responded, “How can you collect sponsorship for the T20 tournament and not share that with all the participating teams? Who is funding clubs in TT then? What is the board really responsible for?”


"Azim Bassarath on back foot over club cricket grants"

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