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WANDERERS WIN

Court rules against arbitrator in matter

By Kern De Freitas

The off-the-field battle turned court matter involving Wanderers and Alescon Comets cricket clubs and the Trinidad and Tobago Cricket Board (TTCB) could find its way back to arbitration, or discussions between the clubs.
At the heart of the issue—which surrounded the TTCB disciplinary committee’s decision to award Comets full points for a washout in a Premier Division fixture between the teams in 2012 at Gilbert Park—was the ruling of an independent arbitrator on the matter. The arbitrator upheld the disciplinary committee’s decision after a TTCB tribunal had overturned it.
The matter subsequently reached the High Court, with Wanderers querying the arbitrator’s decision, which effectively allowed Comets to play last season as the result prevented them from being demoted to the Championship Division. The Couva-based club also refused to field a team in all of their scheduled 2013 League matches in protest.
The Court proceedings came to a conclusion on Tuesday, when the judgement was delivered in Wanderers’s favour.
Contacted yesterday for a reaction on the matter, Wanderers president and owner David John-Williams said he has yet to “digest” the ruling and its implications, and is yet to decide what his next move is.
“I always felt that I was correct in the matter and I took a principled stand,” John-Williams told the Express. “I feel satisfied so far. There’s still some other matters to be sorted out. Maybe we’ll have some discussions with the Cricket Board...”
However, John-Williams said it is too early to decide about such talks.
“There are several things to look at here. (The court) ruled that the arbitration was wrong. What compromise, or what situation is going to be entered into with the Cricket Board, I do not know. It is not for me to say, but where we take it from there is left to be discussed.”
The Wanderers boss remarked that he expected the issue to be “the talking point” in the coming weeks, but felt the issue could also cause a “ripple effect” among the Premier League clubs.
“I haven’t spoken to other clubs, I was in it by myself really. I felt I was correct all along. There’s still a few things to be thrashed out. It’s not often when people take a stand like I have taken. It’s just how I am.”
TTCB CEO Suruj Ragoonath declined comment on the ruling, saying he didn’t “have all the details”.
“We have left it up to the two teams to determine what they want to do from this point on,” Ragoonath said. “There’s no real [reason] to pursue the matter.”
Comets president, Colin Hosein, said it is now in the interest of the parties involved to talk and find consensus on the issue.
“The 2013 season is complete,” said Hosein. “Wanderers was in no way affected, even at the time the disciplinary committee ruled. In 2013, they did not even field a team. So it’s really I think the decision of the clubs and the Cricket Board in the interest of cricket, to make a decision going forward, (To) come to some common agreement with all parties concerned.”
Hosein hopes the clubs involved can find a way to bring the issue to a close, and insisted it would be “unfair” for them to be penalised at this stage. But, he said, that would be dependent on what Wanderers choose to do next.
“Comets finished fifth in the League, so it would be unfair to have us penalised for a 2012 decision, having played in the 2013 season. I think based on the judge’s ruling it would be very difficult to state, because an entire season has passed, and it’s purely academic now. We have to decide if there is an opportunity to improve the process [for] things of this nature. It’s in the interest of the game...
He added: “The judge recommended that (the parties talk and come to an agreement) in his ruling, and all three attorneys have agreed that that is the way forward.”
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