Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Stanford match threatened by sponsor dispute

The High Court in London will hear from September 18 an injunction brought by Digicel against the West Indies Cricket Board (WICB) regarding the Stanford Super Series. The injunction is the latest step in a dispute between the board and its official sponsor over commercial rights relating to the tournament, the first edition of which is due to be held in November.

The injunction relates solely to the proposed match between England and the Stanford Superstars to be held in Antigua on November 1, part of the five-year, US$100 million series - which consists of one All-Star match per year against an England select team. Digicel is seeking to have the WICB withdraw all approvals for the Stanford Super Series; if it is successful, the fallout could disrupt the annual $20 million match.

Digicel's concern is that the deal between the WICB and Stanford encroaches on the Caribbean telecommunication company's exclusive sponsorship rights. Reports suggest Stanford is close to signing on Cable and Wireless (Digicel's competitor and a former sponsor of the West Indies team) as a sponsor for the series. Digicel's agreement with the WICB says its sponsorship rights apply in respect of any match involving a team that "...represents, purports to represent or may reasonably be perceived as representing the West Indies....".

The WICB's view is that Digicel's case holds no water because the team playing the Super Series is not the West Indies team but the Stanford Superstars, over which Digicel has no sponsorship rights.

The issue was discussed over three weeks of negotiations last month but, with no solution in sight, Digicel sought to take the matter into arbitration.