ACA responds to Cricket Australia threats

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Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) Chief Executive Alistair Nicholson has responded to the threats from Cricket Australia towards Australia’s male and female cricketers.

“Clearly, we are disappointed that CA are threatening the players,” Nicholson said.

“It’s also a window into the nature of CA’s behaviour in these negotiations so far. There is incoherence and aggression in what we have experienced at the negotiating table from CA.

“This has further been demonstrated this week with some top players being offered multi-years deals one day only to now be threatened the next.

“However, despite these threats, the players affirm their offer to participate in independent mediation.

“Quite simply, one side entered these negotiations in good faith with an intent to provide a win/win result, and the other is trying to remove player unity and drive a wedge in Australian cricket,” Nicholson said.

“Further lighting the fuse on this dispute on the eve of the Ashes and during discussions with potential broadcasters and sponsors is quite baffling.

“The point lost on CA is that the players will not respond to threats, whilst broadcasters and sponsors need certainty.

“That’s why we state again, for the good of the game, that it is time to sit down in mediation rather than make unnecessary threats and create such uncertainty.”

A copy of Friday’s letter to the players is outlined below for further content.

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Copy of the letter sent from Alistair Nicholson to Australia’s cricketers on Friday 12th May 2017.

With just seven weeks until the expiration of the current MOU between Australia’s cricketers and administrators, increasingly I am fielding calls from concerned stakeholders.

Fair enough too. After all, the future of the game we all love is at stake and one of the most anticipated summers of cricket is just a few short months away.

The questions these stakeholders ask are very reasonable:

  • Why have the negotiations stalled?
  • What are the sticking points?
  • Are Australia’s overseas tours in danger?
  • What does this all mean for the Ashes?

And many more.

My answers are, that the current impasse is utterly unnecessary.

That the sticking point is with Cricket Australia wanting to end a successful partnership without making the case for change. That this seems to be based on a need for ‘control over money’ and little else.

That both you and the ACA do not want to be in a dispute or enter the unknown territory of post 30 June, and are negotiating with flexibility and in good faith.

Subsequently, if there is a question regarding tours over the summer it’s because the administrators have made it so.

Indeed, the latest round of ‘to and fro’ tells the story.

Following six weeks of analysis and detailed discussions with our legal and financial experts, we made the offer on your behalf for 22.5% of revenue entering the game along with the inclusion of female players within this figure.

Essentially you are not asking for any more than what you are currently receiving, and certainly no more than the game can afford.

It was then suggested 22.5% be provided to grass roots investment, a 10% increase on the current level of Cricket Australia investment.

Leaving Cricket Australia with 55% or an ACA estimated $1.6 billion to run the game of cricket for the next five years.

Again, $1.6 billion to run the game of cricket.

Further, apart from the inherent fairness of agreeing to accept only 22 cents in the dollar and the wisdom of increasing grass roots investment, you also offered more.

You offered to adapt the current revenue sharing model, the definition of ‘revenue’ and potentially the associated numbers as well.

In doing so and contrary to the technique of the administration, you have offered large scale flexibility with a view to doing a deal. With any financial uncertainty currently in cricket, this flexibility continues your partnership in the game.

Basically, we opened the door and asked Cricket Australia to walk in for a chat.

So, what was CA’s response to this 26 - page flexible offer, several weeks in the making?

It took Cricket Australia just 1 hour and 55 minutes to yell ‘no’ in the media. This followed the six months it took for CA to articulate its position, by delivering a unilateral offer directly to you by going around the ACA.

As is their way the administrators were light on reason, heavy on condescension and consistent in tone with the last nine months of ‘we’re right and you’re wrong.’

And so here we are, seven weeks from the end of the current MOU and we have been forced to an unhappy conclusion: that for all the posturing Cricket Australia do not want to do a deal on any terms except their own. And we are all left wondering whether 30 June is CA’s real deadline.

We take this timing seriously. The 2017 Women’s World Cup will be mid-tournament on 30 June. As a sign of good faith, we are going to recommend that the selected squad members sign a tournament contract to allow them to complete and excel at this event. But this should not be seen as a lack of resolve by the female players, who want to share, for the first time, in the 20-year revenue share model.

CA’s objective is as it has always been: to make the players employees, not partners and achieve this by ending revenue sharing.

Worse still is that it’s also irrational. Because they have lit the fuse on this dispute at the same time as trying to sell the game to broadcasters and sponsors.

They are trying to sell the game without securing the stars of the game.

Without your time, skills and intellectual property.

There’s no other way to say it: it’s just the wrong way to run the business of cricket.

Despite this we are determined to do everything within our power to resolve the dispute before it gets truly out of hand.

Which is why we are now offering to bring your ideas and flexibility to mediation.

We are hopeful without being confident that a mediation process will be able to break through where the negotiation has not.

And on behalf of all players I commit to doing all I can to do this deal in this forum in the time left.

The challenge is that our flexibility and ideas will more than likely be met with more of the same. With the very dogma and ideology driving the game to the brink on the eve of the Ashes.

One final question is, does the game of cricket deserve better than this?

The answer is yes.

It really does.

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