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Digicel, C&W clash moves from cricket to soccer

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As St. Vincent and the Grenadines gets set to host Group E of the inaugural Digicel Cup from November 24 to 28 at the Arnos Vale Playing Field, a cloud of controversy hovers overhead.

At the heart of the issue is a branding tussle between telecommunications competitors Digicel and the incumbent Cable & Wireless over the presence of advertisements at the playing venue. {{more}}

Reports indicate that the tournament sponsor, mobile operator Digicel, was adamant that all advertising boards or other paraphernalia of main competitor, Cable & Wireless, should be displaced or covered at the venue for the duration of the group matches.

Reports also indicate that Digicel took a fixed line on the issue which prompted regional intervention.

Head of marketing of the Caribbean Football Union (CFU), former Jamaican Football Federation president, Captain Horace Burrell, was on the ground last Monday, to appraise the situation.

Discussions were held with members of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines Football Federation (SVGFF), the National Sports Council (NSC) and Digicel officials.

Burrell was expected to broker a deal among the major players and give the competition the green light.

Reports are that at last Monday’s meeting, Digicel had given a 24- hour ultimatum to redress the situation.

Cable and Wireless, when informed of the situation, had indicated that they would not budge.

However, this stance was reversed last Wednesday, thus quelling the impasse.

The company agreed to cover the advertising signs.

The NSC, custodians of most sporting facilities across the state, when contacted, confirmed that an impasse existed.

The official, though, revealed that his body did not want to be caught up in a row between the companies.

He said that the matter should not have reached a stalemate as the issue over the presence of the advertising boards was communicated to the SVGFF. He said that the SVGFF did not act expediently on the important matter.

The NSC has contractual arrangements with Cable and Wireless, one of which expires December 21.

In addition, Cable and Wireless has other long-term agreements with the NSC, including the sponsorship of the main scoreboard at the field, and one of the private boxes located in the Frankie Thomas Pavilion, all of which boldly display the Cable & Wireless corporate logo.

Digicel has put US $20,000 into the hosting of the St. Vincent and the Grenadines leg of the tournament. This group was originally slated for the Cayman Islands, but the SVGFF bargained for its hosting, following hurricane damage sustained to the islands in September.

SVGFF has estimated the cost of the four-day competition to EC $160,000.

The local football body will be banking on the support of the Vincentian public to offset the deficit.

The group stages of the Digicel Cup started last month, but have been hit by poor attendance in the other host territories.

Group E comprises the British Virgin Islands, Bermuda, the Cayman Islands and host St. Vincent and the Grenadines.