ACA launches male and female cricketers’ IP business: ‘The Cricketers’ Brand’

24 May 2017

CB I

The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) today announced the establishment of ‘The Cricketers’ Brand,’ a business for managing and commercialising Australia’s male and female cricketers’ intellectual property (IP) rights.

This important step assists the players, broadcasters, sponsors and Cricket Australia (CA) to manage the uncertainty arising from the possibility of there being no MOU beyond 30 June 2017.

The Cricketer’s Brand is the best way to manage the uncertainty of all parties regarding IP matters should the players be unemployed post June 30.

Whilst this business will ‘go live’ on 1 July 2017, the ACA is finalising securing the interim IP of Australia’s elite male and female cricketers pending a new MOU being agreed.

The players' IP includes marketing and media rights such as:

  • Use of a players’ name, voice, signature, trade mark, image, likeness or performance
  • The players’ image being recorded, broadcast, narrowcast, webcast, displayed, published or disseminated or applied to any licensed products
  • Player interviews
  • Player appearances and promotions, sponsorships or endorsement activities (including to wear or promote brands or logos)

The Cricketers’ Brand will work alongside player agents who may have been given the right to do individual sponsorship and endorsement deals on behalf of their players, such as bat sponsorships and individual endorsements.

This means that from 1 July 2017 The Cricketers’ Brand will be a facilitator for:

  • Commercial parties who want to use a players’ IP. These parties would include sporting goods suppliers, food and beverage companies, banks, car manufacturers and insurance companies
  • Broadcasters and newspapers who want to interview the players or use a player’s attributes
  • CA to meet ongoing commercial obligations to their sponsors and broadcasters if they want to use the players and have done multi-year deals that extend beyond 30 June 2017. The Cricketers’ Brand will seek to work with CA to manage this transitional period smoothly – as it is hoped that CA will become a major client of The Cricketers’ Brand in the future
  • CA to use the players’ IP on its website cricket.com.au or other digital products
  • CA to use players’ images in games or apps

It also follows the concerning situation under the current MOU’s revenue share model where male cricketers’ have thus far been allocated approximately 0% of the digital media revenue received by Cricket Australia (publicly reported to be worth approximately $40m over five years).

Whilst the ACA is seeking to get to the bottom of this, the players can’t allow this to continue, especially given the extensive use of their attributes on CA’s digital platforms.

Tim Cruickshank appointed as the General Manager of The Cricketers’ Brand

Tim Cruickshank, current ACA Commercial Manager and former NSW Blue, has been appointed as the General Manager of The Cricketers’ Brand.

Cruickshank said that the growth in new areas of fan engagement made this a period of great opportunity for Australia’s cricketers.

The Cricketers' Brand has been born of necessity but our analysis reveals it creates great opportunities for the players,” Cruickshank said.

“Across all categories, whether in-game access by broadcasters, sponsors, licensed products, appearances or merchandising, the players have been pivotal to the growth in the revenue in Australian cricket; both on and off the field.

“This is about securing a fair share for the men and women who play the game by taking greater control of their own intellectual property.

“The ACA has identified that the players themselves deserve to help share in, and grow this further.

“It also means players can lend their IP to grass roots development at local and club level. This is important to the players who are disappointed that grassroots cricket currently only receiving 12% of the revenue entering the game. This is clearly unsatisfactory.

“It should be an exciting period ahead in the game both at international and domestic level, in both men’s and women’s cricket. Big Bash, World Cup and bilateral series that will be watched by millions worldwide and the opportunity for the players to grow their personal brand alongside the brand of cricket is exciting for the players to be a part of.

“We will be working with both the players and their agents to help set up a commercial framework that best suits the future direction of revenue streams.

“What this means practically for broadcasters and sponsors is that they can seek to establish a more direct relationship with the players through The Cricketers’ Brand which we hope will enhance those partnerships for further mutual benefit.”

In congratulating Cruickshank on his appointment, ACA Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson said that the formation of The Cricketers’ Brand was driven by the need for greater certainty in the short term for all parties – whilst creating more opportunities in the long term.

“When players are threatened with unemployment and when they learn they receive 0% of the digital revenue they generate they are naturally concerned.

The Cricketers’ Brand has been established to better manage these concerns and those of all affected parties.

“Tim Cruickshank’s cricket and commercial background places him as the ideal candidate to carry forward the ACA’s development in this area.”

Nicholson emphasised the international foundation for player IP management.

“In the US, almost all of their major sports have set-up models to help sustain the players’ income through a mechanism that also supports their association in delivering services and programs that also benefit their colleagues.

“With new broadcast rights and commercial partnerships in cricket we expect that the players will benefit from having a more streamlined level of involvement through the ACA’s direct partnership with these entities.

“We will work closely with player agents, who will maintain their important role in relation to a player’s personal sponsors and playing arrangements,” Nicholson said.