COVID squeeze being felt but organisers still confident, says HallTuesday, May 18, 2021
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) — Director of Operations Michael Hall says the Caribbean Premier League (CPL) has continued to experience the economic fallout from the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic, but is remaining confident this year's showpiece in St Kitts and Nevis would be a success.
For the second-straight year, players and officials will be subject to a pay cut and even though fans could return for this year's tournament, they will have to be fully vaccinated and limited to only half the capacity of the Warner Park venue.
Hall pointed out that all global sports events staged in the pandemic environment had taken a financial hit and the CPL was no different.
“Even more so in the case of the CPL. Our brand is that we're the biggest party in sport and obviously you can't have a party if you don't have guests at the party,” the veteran Jamaican administrator said, referring to the absence of fans.
“And so the atmosphere is not there. CPL is punching above its weight. We play in a small market in terms of attendance, we play in economies that are generally weaker than where the other leagues take place.”
When the CPL is in full swing and we're playing across the six territories in the Caribbean where franchises are domicile, we probably have higher costs of running the tournament than any league does because we're not playing in a contiguous land mass.
“We're constantly having to pull up stumps and ship the circus down the road to another venue, and so on. So it's always been a challenge for the CPL and that challenge has just been exacerbated over the last couple of years because of the pandemic.”
He added: “I don't think it is a secret that last year our players and everybody involved in the tournament were asked to take a 30 per cent pay cut to what they were normally accustomed to receiving.
“We've pegged that back a bit this year and that number is at 20 per cent at the moment, but I think that's the clearest indication of the fact the pandemic is squeezing anybody who is trying to put on a major sporting event, not just the CPL.”
Organisers successfully staged the popular Twenty20 franchise tournament in Trinidad and Tobago last year at the height of the pandemic, with players and officials entrenched in a bio-secure bubble and guided by strict government health protocols.
And while strict health protocols will obtain for this year's edition, the fact that St Kitts and Nevis currently have no active cases of COVID-19 – and have recorded only 44 infections since the start of the pandemic – has further boosted the confidence of organisers.
Hall said the Trinidad experience had been a critical learning curve.
“This is not our first rodeo and interestingly and positively, this is not our first rodeo staging a tournament in the midst of a pandemic. We did it successfully last year and we learnt a number of important lessons from doing it last year,” Hall said in an interview with Starcom Radio's Mason and Guest.
“One of the primary considerations in hosting the tournament and looking to St Kitts and Nevis as the host country is the fantastic job that they have done in managing the pandemic. There are zero active cases in the country and… I think about 40 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated.
“So we have a duty of care to go to St Kitts and Nevis and protect that enviable record that they have established, and we're going to work very closely with the authorities there to make sure we have protocols in place that will allow us to do just that.”
The challenge of staging cricket during the pandemic was underscored only last month when the lucrative Indian Premier League had to be suspended because of a surge in COVID-19 cases across India which resulted in positive cases among some franchises.
And last March, the Pakistan Super League was also halted when players also tested positive.
The ninth edition of the CPL is expected to bowl off August 28 and feature 33 games.
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