CA head hits out at union for turning off sponsors and broadcasters
David Peever, the chairman of Cricket Australia, has today exacerbated the tension in a dispute with the country’s professional players over a new pay deal by accusing their union of pursuing “a reckless strategy” that threatens to have damaging commercial consequences.
Around 230 international and state players are effectively unemployed after the previous memorandum of understanding between CA and the Australian Cricketers’ Association expired on 30 June without a new agreement being reached.
The stumbling block is CA’s insistence on an end to the revenue-sharing model, which dates back over 20 years, something the ACA and its members are refusing to countenance.
However, Peever claims that the union is taking a militant stance that is compromising broadcasting and sponsorship deals and dividing the players from the national body.
The dispute has already resulted in the cancellation of the Australian A team’s tour of South Africa this month and threatens the first team’s forthcoming scheduled series in Bangladesh and India and even the prestigious home ‘Ashes’ series against England later this year.
In a column in The Australian newspaper, Peever said: “CA has put what in any normal circumstances would be regarded as a very generous offer. The ACA has responded by not only rejecting that proposal (and recent concessions) out of hand, but, by launching a campaign of such ferocity that anyone could be forgiven for thinking CA was proposing the reintroduction of slavery rather than healthy pay rises.
“Not content with that level of overreaction, the ACA has gone much further. Refusing to allow the players to tour, threatening to drive away commercial sponsors and damage the prospects of broadcast partners, lock up player intellectual property into its own business ventures, and even stage its own games. It’s a reckless strategy that can only damage the game and therefore the interests of the ACA’s members.”
The comments of Peever, who had to deal with unions in his previous role as managing director of mining company Rio Tinto, could be regarded as unhelpful as it emerged today that CA chief executive James Sutherland had met with his ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson as negotiations over a new deal resumed after the breakdown of previous talks.
Earlier this week, it emerged that leading CA sponsors KFC and Toyota were putting pressure on CA to end the pay dispute, which is thought to be holding up other deals.
The row is also untimely given that CA is preparing to launch a tender for the rights to cricket in Australia for the 2018-19 season onwards.
It has been reported that the dispute could delay any new deals until next year, although Nine Network, which presently holds the rights to Australia’s home international matches and is also targeting the Big Bash League, the Twenty20 competition, appears to want an earlier resolution.
Speaking at the launch of its 2017-18 summer of cricket this week, Nine’s head of sport Tom Malone told The Australian: “We’ve made no secret of the fact that we’re keen to acquire the rights to all forms of cricket, and we’d like to do that as soon as possible.”
Nine holds the rights to Australia matches in a five-year deal worth A$490 million ($378 million) which expires after the forthcoming season, while Ten Network shows the BBL under a A$100-million contract, although the latter may struggle to renew its deal having recently entered voluntary administration.
Asked about Nine’s feelings on the pay row, Malone said: “We have every confidence that Cricket Australia and the players will reach agreement soon, and we’re keen to progress our discussions around the next rights deal.”
It is thought that CA hoped to raise A$900 million from its next five-year rights deals, including A$600 million from the Australia matches and A$300 million from the BBL, but, in the light of the pay dispute and the plight of Ten, sports industry experts are now said to be seeing A$700 million as a more realistic target.