Tallawahs funding out of government’s reach, says sports minister

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KINGSTON, Jamaica (CMC) – The Jamaica government says it cannot provide the level of funding required by the Jamaica Tallawahs, dealing a major blow to the aspirations of the Caribbean Premier League franchise ahead of the new season.

Sports Minister Olivia Grange said while government would continue to provide financial support for Tallawahs, the over US $1.5 million needed by the franchise was outside of the country’s current reach.

“I am in discussions with the Tallawahs and hope to find a way to give some support as I stretch the little that we have,” Grange told the awards ceremony of the Melbourne Cricket Club recently.

“The Tallawahs need in excess of US $1 million each year for the next three years. We cannot find that. I have to be clear and up front about that. We cannot find that. “In fact, it’s in excess of US $1.5 million. But, working with the private sector, we could find a way. So … I make a special appeal to corporate Jamaica to come on board with the Jamaica Tallawahs.”

Tallawahs are one of six CPL franchises which contest the annual Caribbean Twenty20 competition. The Kingston-based franchise is owned by Florida-based businessman Kris Persaud, whose Worldwide Sports Management Group took over operations two years ago.

Media reports, however, have said there are plans afoot to shift the franchise to Florida, with games to be played at the Central Broward Regional Park. Last year, three of the Tallawahs’ five home matches were played at the Lauderhill venue.

Grange said government had supported Tallawahs financially in the past, dishing out US $25,000 in 2015 and a further US $35,000 in 2017. No support was provided last year because the request for help came after the budget process had finished.

She explained that government already supported more than 40 sports associations and the amount needed by Tallawahs was in excess of the total subventions provided to these organisations. Grange also warned that if Tallawahs were to be given what was needed to keep games being played in Jamaica “then we would have to shut down shop and give support to no one else – and that’s not possible.”

She added: “But we’re still trying. The little that we have, we will stretch it and give them something. Yes, we have put something in the budget for them.” Grange said even Prime Minister Andrew Holness had gotten involved in an attempt to galvanize support for the franchise.

“I must tell you we went as far as having the prime minister himself arrange a meeting with the Tallawahs and a private entity in Jamaica which also has an international connection,” she revealed.

“Several meetings were held. Unfortunately, just maybe a couple weeks ago, the Tallawahs were told that this company is unable to assist.” The 2019 CPL is set to bowl off in August.

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