‘$3 million ECB loan a ‘helping hand’, not condition to tour England’
Cricket West Indies (CWI) President Ricky Skerritt has quashed speculation linking the West Indies tour of England to a US$3 million loan to CWI by the ECB in May, a loan that eventually became the subject of an ICC ethics inquiry. Skerritt also denied that the loan ensured CWI’s backing for Colin Graves – the outgoing ECB head – for the ICC chairman’s position, elections for which are due by July.
Skerritt said instead the loan was a “helping hand” given the direness of CWI’s financial situation, one exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Skerritt said CWI was transparent with ICC about the need for a short-term loan, and ECB’s involvement. He said it seemed to him that the issue was being “blown up” for “political” purposes only, mostly by “mischievous persons who have little genuine care for the wellbeing” of cricket.
Skerritt said the only pre-condition set for the tour was for the safety and security of his players and once that was assured, the tour would go ahead as it was part of the ICC FTP agreement and the World Test Championship
“It was just a matter of when the tour would take place and if the ECB could assure the CWI medical experts that the health risk would be minimal to ensure the safety of our players and staff.” Skerritt told ESPNcricnfo on Friday. “Money had nothing to do with our final decision to make this tour. Holding out a hand for a pay-off is not the way CWI does business.”
CWI had approached the ICC this April “seeking an advance” of $3 million – an advance that would be taken against the annual distribution the ICC gives member countries twice a year – in January and July.
The ICC, it is understood, asked CWI to provide an external audit of future cash flow considering it was going to make the payment three months in advance, a forecast CWI could not provide quickly or with any certainty, given the circumstances of the pandemic were outside its control.
We needed cash urgently,” said Skerritt. “The communication [with ICC] was beginning to look like it would take quite long to be approved and CWI had no other reliable source of cash at that time.”
It was then Skerritt approached the ECB.
“CWI asked ECB if they could make the advance instead, with the ICC providing the security,” he said. “ECB agreed on the basis that ICC would then pay the advance back directly in July. ICC Finance officials were always fully aware of the transparent arrangements and soon became a legal party to the loan agreement.”