Lara wants Caribbean fans investment to save West Indies cricket

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Brain_LaraThe West Indies cricket team’s captain Brian Lara called for the Caribbean public to ensure survival of the West Indies cricket by involving themselves in a membership programme that would fund the regional game without the “stranglehold” of sponsors.

Lara, who called the current West Indies team “his family”, made a rousing appeal as feature speaker at the third annual West Indies Players Association (WIPA) Awards for 2005, in Port-of-Spain.

Named West Indies Cricketer of Year, West Indies Test Player of Year and given a special award for becoming the highest scorer in Tests last year, Lara suggested the people of the region take matters into their own hands and emulate efforts of fans of two world-famous teams, namely Green Bay Packers, who play in National Football League (NFL) in the USA, and Spanish football club Barcelona, winners of this year’s European Champions League.

“These two teams have a model which I would love to see the West Indies adopt. They pay annual membership fee and with a membership of 90,000 fans for Packers and 100,000 for Barcelona, that brings in a lot of revenue,” Lara urged.

“We can do same thing here in the Caribbean. We have six million passionate fans in the region and a further nine million in diaspora. Why can’t we have just one million of those people paying $20 to ensure the West Indies cricket survives?”

Lara said this venture would prevent any one private entity from dictating the pace for the regional game, like the sponsorship row between Digicel and Cable & Wireless that wreaked havoc last year, saying, “Why do we have to have that stranglehold of sponsorship round our necks? We are greater than that.”

He set up his suggestion by pointing out that the West Indies cricket was at a critical juncture which could mean demise of the game in the region.

He said expected windfall of the ICC Cricket World Cup 2007 in the West Indies would be $50-60 million, a situation that would finally erase $15-20 million debt that saddled the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) to date.

“That will leave about $30 million and I have talked to one person close to the WICB who told me that money would last five to six years.”

Lara said the West Indies cricket was at “threshold of complete oblivion in world cricket”, due to its perilous financial state.

“After that, period of uncertainty and unknown would follow. What do we do to arrest situation? What do we do to ensure money we make over the World Cup will help ensure game prospers long after so we move forward and our cricket moves on to that next level?” he asked.

Source:The News

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