One of the most successful franchises of the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), Jamaica Tallawahs (JT), will not feature in the 2024 season. They will be replaced by a new franchise based in Antigua and Barbuda.
Jamaica Tallawahs won the inaugural tournament in 2013 before doing so again in 2016 and 2022.
The owners of the franchise have sold it back to the CPL, as confirmed by a league spokesperson to ESPNCricinfo, stating:
“The owners were left with no option but to sell the Tallawahs back to CPL as they could not find a way to operate the team sustainably.”
Antigua hosted a franchise named Antigua Hawksbills in the first two CPL seasons in 2013 and 2014 before being replaced by St. Kitts and Nevis Patriots in 2015.
After acquiring the team in 2017, Guyanese businessman Kris Persaud sold the Tallawahs back to the CPL ahead of the 2024 season because he said he was unable to sustain the team given a lack of support from the Jamaican Government.
Jamaica hasn’t hosted an international game since August 2022 when West Indies played Ireland in a one-day match. and will not stage any game in the T20 World Cup next year.
And Jamaica has not hosted a CPL game since September 2019 when the Tallawahs lost by 20 runs to the St. Kitts & Nevis Patriot
Former Tallawahs CEO, Jeff Miller, shed more light on this lack of support from the Government.
“Over the years, we have failed to get any backing or support from the Jamaican Government. We have submitted proposals over the years requesting Government support and we have failed to reach some kind of agreement to say that the Government is supporting the franchise,” Miller told SportsMax.tv in an interview on Wednesday.
“The business plan of CPL entails that the Governments play a major role in financial support of the franchises and that’s what the other franchises are receiving from their respective countries and Jamaica has failed to participate in those environs,” he added.
“Unfortunately, the franchise cannot be sustained in Jamaica. We cannot have a franchise where we don’t have home games,” Miller said.
“When you don’t have home games, you’re losing ticket sales, you’re losing merchandising, you’re losing concession, you’re losing sponsors. So, it’s not only the government support, you’re losing others as well because what business would want to support a franchise and they can’t get any benefits from the franchise playing within the country? For what we see, there were no games scheduled for 2024 either! It’s unsustainable,” Miller added.
This was due to the reluctance of the Government to pay the CPL hosting fee for the last four years. When asked why this was, Miller said he wasn’t privy to those discussions but always had promises from Jamaica’s Minister of Sport, the hon. Olivia “Babsy” Grange regarding financial support.
“I’m not at privilege to those conversations. Those conversations would’ve been between them and CPL. I’m not sure what transpired but from the Tallawahs standpoint, we know that the minister was very graceful in her discussions with us but when it came to funding that’s when things would go off track. We were promised on numerous occasions that there would be something in the budget, nothing substantial but even a small gesture, we were not able to receive those funds,” he said.
Persaud and Miller will lead the new Antigua-based franchise which will be part of next year’s competition, replacing the Tallawahs in the six-team Twenty20 tournament. The CPL is in search of new owners for the Jamaica-based franchise.
Miller said they have gotten commitments from the Antiguan Government and are looking forward to a fruitful partnership in the future.
“We have commitments from the Antiguan Government. We can’t disclose any information, per se, but it’s substantially more than what we were getting from Jamaica,” he said.
“We can’t tell the players; Jamaica’s not supporting us so we can’t pay your salary. All of those things have to be taken care of so we’re looking forward to greener pastures and Antigua seems to be in a better position to support and seems to want to have a CPL team back in Antigua. We think it’s a good fit for the franchise,” Miller added.
Announcements related to the branding of the new Antigua franchise will come next month, according to Miller,
“I’m engaging the fans in Antigua to participate in the naming of the franchise. That deadline should be around January 20th or so. Then, we will announce the name as well as the colors and logo,” he said.