The PSA has once more shown that its ethical values don’t quite reach
If you haven’t heard of their latest act of
treachery, let me put it briefly. John Nimick, the former PSA chief executive,
has, since leaving the post, worked diligently in putting together a trio
of tournaments: the US Open, the YMG Classic in Toronto and the great
Tournament of Champions in New York.
You would think, surely, that the PSA board
of directors and all PSA members would value his work and give him all
Sadly the board of directors – whom I shall
name later – have gone in the opposite direction and , well, to put it
in the vernacular, screwed him good and proper. He had the Boston Symphony
Hall booked in September for the US Open, a wonderful new venue to take
the US Open up to a new level. (You may remember he had it booked last
year before the ghastly events of 9/11 forced him to cancel the date).
John Nimick had paid PSA the registration fee of $1,900 and the event
was on the calendar.
Then came along the French Squash Federation,
who, after a lot of good work by WISPA’s Andrew Shelley, decided to resurrect
the French Open. The venue they chose in Juan-les-Pins in southern France
was only available on the same date as the US Open. At this point you
would expect PSA to say ‘Sorry’ let’s wait until next year – we already
have an event for that date.’ Did they?
Did they hell.
They took the French registration fee and so
now we have a French Open, a Super Series, event on exactly the same date
as the US Open. How’s that for meticulous planning folks?
Now you can have a Super Series event by putting
up just $60,000 in prize money, which the French did – just $12,000 more
than the US Open.
When asked for an explanation for the PSA’s
action, their chief executive (executioner?) Gawain Briars splutters:
” The US Open is not a Super Series event, so their dates are not protected.”
Then why did he accept Nimick’s $1,900 ? What did Nimick get for his money
other than a registration? This is not the first time the present PSA
administration has taken the money and ran. You may remember they granted
the Melbourne Squash Festival the 2001 Men’s World Open. When an entrepreneur
from India came along and offered a deal for the next five years, they
took the Open away from Melbourne and gave it to him. (He never paid the
PSA one rupee for the rights).
To pacify the Melbourne promoters, the WSF
came up with a sort of Men’s world championship to take its place. A month
before the event Fablon said they could only come up with half the promised
The PSA immediately told its members not to
participate, the members obeyed and Melbourne cancelled the event. The
Melbourne promoters then asked the PSA for their $5,000 registration fee
to be returned. The PSA refused, which is why Mike Corby, a vice-president
of the WSF, thinks so lowly of them. So Melbourne got screwed not once,
but twice, by the PSA.
It should also be pointed out, that the Indian
promoter has yet to stage one World Open, cancelling the one scheduled
for last December “because of the effects of 9/11”. Strangely, no sponsor
had been found and the $150,000 prize money had never been raised.
It should also be remembered that last year
Nimick had to change the date of the YMG Classic in Toronto because the
PSA decided to hold the qualifying (qualifying!) rounds of the never-to-be
played World Open in Cardiff on those dates, the first time that I can
remember qualifying rounds of a tournament being held in a different country
than the event.
And two weeks priorÂ
. Think about it.
One board member told Nimick that the French
Open treachery had been “an agonizing decision.”
I can’t see why; the PSA must be used to screwing
promoters by now.
Nimick was told it was nothing personal; hard
to believe after what they did to him last November and now with the US
Open dates. The fact is that Nimick runs his three tournaments as he wants
to and doesn’t use -and will never use – Robert Edwards (a PSA director)-
as his "presenter." Maybe if he did, the PSA would have acted
differently towards him.
But back to the US Open.
Why should the PSA have acted differently in
the clash of dates?
Firstly they should have had a great deal of
sympathy for what Nimick went through last year: he cancelled the Boston
Symphony Hall and every cent spent on preparations was lost. He bravely
put the US Open on last January in the Sheraton Ballroom but could not
make up the large chunk of money lost in September. They also forced him
to put back his Toronto tournament. When the board were considering the
French Open clash of dates, did they not consider these factors, as well
as the debt they owe to John Nimick, one of their main partners? Could
they not have said to French “Welcome aboard. Why don’t you put up less
prize money this year, highlight all your great French players and next
year we will give you a date without clashes so you get all the top players.”
As you may have guessed by now I am absolutely
appalled at the PSA’s action. It is unethical, unprofessional and cynical.
I am not alone in this condemnation: I have spoken to administrators and
others close to the sport who are just as aghast at this short-sighted,
grab-the-money, attitude. Who are the PSA board of directors?
JACK HERRICK. The chairman,
an American brought on to the board by Nimick when he was chief exec of
DAVID PALMER. The Australian player who was recentley
MARK CAIRNS. England international, recently retired
TONY HANDS. England. Still plays the circuit but
has a travel agency on the side. Director.
ROBERT EDWARDS. Former motor-bike salesman and self-styled
voice of squash. Director.
RODNEY EYLES. Former world champion from Australia.
ROBERT GRAHAM. English player now working
in Santa Barbara. Director.
Were they all present at the vote? Was it a
unanimous decision or split? Are they all happy to take the moral responsibility
for that piece of double dealing? Will anybody resign because of it ?
Would they all like to respond to the above and make their views known
on Squashtalk? Don’t bet on it. We now all know the wretched ethical standards
of the board of the PSA.
ITS IN THE PLAYERS HANDS
What we shall soon find out is the ethical values of the top 20 players
who will now have to choose between playing in the $60,000 French Open
and the $47,500 US Open. Being a Super Series event, the French Open offers
more ranking points, a strong attraction because the money is not a lot
different: At the French Open the $60,000 is split between 32 players;
the US Open is split between 16 players. The winner gets 18% of the prize
money, which means $10,800 in France and $8,600 in Boston.
Jonathon Power has said he will play in Boston
but Nimick won’t know who else until the entry closes at the end of July.
I hope the players will react to this decision
in the same way as they did to the Irish fiddle.
The newly founded World Squash Professional Association (WSPA), started
by Michael Bryant, an American businessman as an antidote to some of the
PSA’s outmoded thinking, has had a big split at the top. Andre Maur and
his wife, who allegedly came up with the idea of another ‘sanctioning’
body, have left the organisation even before it got going. In a press
release Bryant said : “The administration of WSPA sanctioned tournaments,
at the local, regional, national, and international levels will be determined
through a transparent process of competitive bidding. No member of WSPA’s
Board of Directors or management team will be permitted to participate
in the bidding competition for any for-profit endeavor of WSPA during
their tenure on the Board or in management.”
The split was not friendly, I am sad to say.
One of they main features offered by the WSPA would be a true world ranking,
one based on all tournaments, national championships, league and world
championships. Right now both the PSA and WISPA claim their rankings as
‘world’ lists when in fact they only take into account their own tournaments.
Most of the top players play each other in many European leagues which
are now more plentiful than tournaments. It seems logical to take these
results into account. It would stop some of the players from turning up,
putting in no effort, taking their money and going home. If they knew
ranking points were at stake, they could well give the league and team
sponsors their money’s worth. When the WSF wanted to talk to the PSA about
taking world championship results into the computer mix for their ‘world’
rankings, the were rebuffed by the PSA. Didn’t even want to discuss it.
WELL TED, NOT QUITE THE BIGGEST
Ted Wallbutton chief exec of the WSF trumpeted to all and sundry that
his new website logged two million visits in a year, claiming that it
was the biggest site in squash. Well, not quite Ted. Squashtalk, gets
more than that in two months. But it’s a good website and well worth visiting.
It just doesn’t have Global GalleryÂ
DOUBLES IN SIZE
In American squash circles, they are slightly concerned that their professional
doubles circuit, run by Canadian Gary Wait, is bigger than all the singles
tournaments combined. The ISDA (International Squash Doubles Association)
was formed when the doubles players found they weren’t getting too much
for their $300 membership in the PSA. So they formed their own association
and now have a circuit worth $700,000 most of it won by the supreme doubles
team of Gary Waite and Damien Mudge. The singles circuit in both the US
and Canada combined is nowhere near that figure.
What’s to be done? I haven’t the foggiest idea.
But the latest PSA action won’t help the cause of the singles tour!