London: The World Cup was plunged into a new cash row on Thursday when the sport's governing body found itself on a collision course with Sri Lanka. The International Cricket Council (ICC) issued a statement warning the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) of the trouble it could face should it fail to settle its pay dispute with its own players.
"We have been in regular contact with the BCCSL and expect to receive the signed player terms on Friday," said ICC chief executive Malcolm Speed. "Failure to return the contracts will have very serious consequences for the BCCSL," added Speed who did not specify what measures could be taken. The warning was issued after Sri Lanka's players rejected a performance-related pay package for the World Cup and, as a result, the Board missed the January 14 deadline set by the ICC for the signing of players' agreements.
The BCCSL on Wednesday had offered its squad a cash bounty to win the World Cup, which runs from February 9 to March 23, by means of a new payment scheme tied to performance. The island's cricket chiefs, who last month turned down an across-the-board pay increase demanded by players, instead began discussing a performance-based payment scheme with a $ 100,000 bonus to be offered to the entire team if it won the tournament.
Under the plan, the match fee for each player was to be doubled from $ 700 to $ 1,400, while each player could also earn an additional $ 20,000 if the team reached the final. However, on Thursday, the Sri Lanka Cricketers Association (SLCA) turned down the plan demanding a bigger share of the cash the Board will receive from the event.
It is understood that the players want 20 per cent of the World Cup windfall and not the five per cent that has been tabled. Despite the row, the SLCA insisted there was no question of the team boycotting the tournament, which it won in 1996. "The players are committed to playing in the World Cup even without such payments," said a spokesman.