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Former coach Phil Simmons sues Zim Cricket for US$320,000


Demanding his dues ... Former Zimbabwe Cricket coach Phil Simmons

15/12/2015 00:00:00
by Enock Muchinjo
 
Suing Zim Cricket ... Phil Simmons
 
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WEST Indies cricket coach Phil Simmons is demanding US$320,000 in damages from Zimbabwe for unlawful dismissal 10 years after he was sacked by the African side.

A tribunal ruling is expected “anytime soon”, according to his lawyer.

Simmons first dragged Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC) to court in 2009 seeking compensation after he was dismissed in 2005 with two years still remaining on his contract.

NewZimbabwe.com has established that the case is now awaiting arbitration after the Labour Court in Harare struck it off the roll.

The court directed Simmons’ lawyer, Jonathan Samkange, to have the matter before a tribunal to determine the actual damages due to the 52-year-old Trinidadian.

“We are now awaiting judgment from the arbitrator,” Samkange told NewZimbabwe.com.

“We should have the determination anytime now. The case was heard two months ago.”

In addition to $50,000 in unpaid salaries, Simmons is also demanding $195 000 as damages for the remainder of his contract – which was initially scheduled to expire in August 2007 at a rate of “$15 00 per month plus interest from August 2007 to date of full and final payment,” according to court papers in our possession.

The coach also wants an extra $75,000 as six months’ notice stipulated in his contract with ZC.

In the court papers, ZC admit owing Simmons $50,000 in outstanding salaries and has twice, in 2007 and 2009, offered an out-of-court settlement and full payment of $60,000 which was turned down.

Under his contract, Simmons was to earn $10,000 in his first year, $12,500 in the second year and $15,000 in the third.


Now in charge of his native West Indies ... Phil Simmons

Simmons, who had initially arrived in the country to head the national academy, was appointed head coach by Zimbabwe in 2004 but fell out with the board in August 2005 and was replaced by the late former Zimbabwe player Kevin Curran.

ZC initially announced it would reassign Simmons to a new role within Zimbabwean cricket. As a result, Simmons stayed on in the country up to 2006.

Although poor results were given by ZC as reason for the changes, a power struggle within Zimbabwean cricket in which Simmons and his players publicly sided with a dissenting group attempting to oust the then Peter Chingoka-led board, was widely seen as his undoing.



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Simmons – who played 26 Test matches and 134 one-day internationals for the West Indies – also claims in his affidavits that he was victimised for trying to force the board to pay players in foreign currency to cushion them against world-record inflation levels ravaging the country at the time.

Relations between the two parties had soured to an extent that in 2006 when ZC terminated Simmons’ contract altogether, documents show that the cricket governing body had approached immigration officials in a bid to have the expat coach immediately deported out of the country.

Meanwhile, in opposing papers, ZC claim Simmons had in fact not been unlawfully dismissed, stating that his contract was legally “terminated” due to “unsatisfactory performance.” ZC added that Simmons’ demands were unreasonable, and that his lawsuit had been bungled.

ZC also want Simmons to surrender his official vehicle, a Nissan Wolf 4X4. Simmons claims the car was allocated to him as part of his benefits.

Simmons, who went on to coach ICC associate side Ireland after leaving the Zimbabwe job, was last month reinstated as West Indies coach after being briefly suspended by the West Indies Cricket Board for utterances deemed improper.

It is not the first time this year that a leading Zimbabwean sports federation has faced litigation after failing to pay a former coach – and suffered dire consequences for it.

Zimbabwe’s soccer team was in March thrown out of the 2018 World Cup qualification competition by Fifa after the association failed to pay a former coach, Brazilian Valinhos, who was fired in 2008.


 
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