The current pay dispute with Cricket Australia is a long way from matching the ugly stoush of 2017 Picture: Getty Images
The current pay dispute with Cricket Australia is a long way from matching the ugly stoush of 2017 Picture: Getty Images

Revenue-share has nervous players seeking exit option

AUSTRALIAN cricketers are asking for the right to be released from their contracts should their pay drop below a nominated amount in the next 12 months.

The Australian Cricketers Association and Cricket Australia are circling each other in talks over how to handle the administration's claims of a cash crisis and projections of further impact over the summer.

The players are paid a percentage of cricket revenue and have, since the alarms were first sounded at CA, said they believe that this is the best way to handle any loss of revenue should future tours be cancelled, crowds be banned or other impacts of the pandemic affect the summer.

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Cricket Australia named the 35 men and women offered central contracts at the end of April. The states and BBL teams are now drawing up their playing lists which will be in place for the next financial year.

Under the current model, if revenue drops or rises, the players pay drops or rises accordingly. CA however want to front load the pain.

In discussions with News Corp Australia on Wednesday, CA likened their proposal to rent relief in that they would ask the players to accept less up front with the balance to be paid down the track should the worst not occur.

The players are already owed around $80m which is sitting in a fund known as the adjustment ledger. That money accrued when the broadcast deal and other revenues post the signing of the MOU in 2017 exceeded expectation.

The ACA and CA do not see eye-to-eye on the current financial position of the game, with the players body, like some states, arguing the position is not that bad that it warrants 25 per cent cuts.

The players have suggested a percentage based retainer this year, which would allow their contracted pay to be cut by set amounts if and when future losses are incurred.

They believe the losses can be drawn down from the reserves in the adjustment ledger.

The most controversial part of the ACA's stance was revealed to News Corp Australia on Wednesday after the players body contacted members and explained it wanted a clause in the 2020-21 contracts which allows the players to nominate what was described as a "release amount" where they can walk away from the contract should the retainer drop below that amount.

The player would nominate that amount. The clause would affect all international and state players and could create enormous headaches for the administration.

It triggers memories of the original MOU dispute which saw all Australian players without contracts when they failed to reach an agreement with CA, but the situation is a long way from becoming that ugly.

Another issue facing players and administrators is the rapidly moving plan to hold the IPL in October-November with the expectation that the T20 World Cup scheduled for those dates in Australia is unlikely to go ahead.

Players are not discouraged from using their eight weeks leave at this time of year to attend the IPL but it would be an interesting notion to see them released while on contract with CA to earn millions in the BCCI's domestic league.

The showdown between India and Australia will start long before the summer series.
The showdown between India and Australia will start long before the summer series.

India is willing to offer a carrot to Australia and play extra ODIs in the summer to encourage the release of players, but CA would appear within their rights to question whether it should pay players who are not available in that period.

CA is, however, given a percentage of player contracts by the BCCI.



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