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The bitter payment dispute between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) is finally over as both bodies have agreed on a deal.
After 10 months of negotiations that saw relations between both parties turn frosty, Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland and ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson confirmed that a new agreement had been reached at a press conference in Melbourne on Wednesday.
According to the new agreement, players will receive 27.5 per cent of forecast revenue, while the female player payments will rise from $7.5 million to $55.2 million. Furthermore, should revenues exceed $1.67 billion, money will be pumped into grassroots cricket.
“It’s a very different revenue share model to what was previously the case,” Sutherland said. “It’s been modernised to allow the game more flexibility. The guarantee of player payments is formed on a certain basis. We’ve talked about bringing women’s cricketers into the pay model for the first time. Beyond that, where revenues exceed a certain level of income, it allows the grassroots of the game to share in those surpluses as well.”
Australia’s international and domestic cricketers have been unemployed since July 1 as an agreement on a new Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) could not be agreed upon before the expiration of the existing deal.
However, it has been confirmed that the players will receive back-pay once the brand new MoU is completed and signed.
With both Cricket Australia and the ACA seeing eye-to-eye, Australia’s tour of Bangladesh, which is scheduled to begin later this month, will go ahead. Australia will also take on India in a limited overs series before going up against England in a highly-anticipated Ashes series on home soil in November.
“Today’s agreement is the result of a sensible compromise from both parties,” Sutherland said. “From Cricket Australia’s point of view, we needed to modernise the pay model, to provide us with more flexibility to deal with issues facing the game as they come up from time to time. In this regard, the under-funding of grassroots cricket and junior cricket is our highest strategic priority.
“We also wanted to introduce a gender equity pay model for women’s cricketers, so that they can also pursue a career in cricket. The ACA and Cricket Australia are delighted to be genuine market leaders in Australian sport in this regard.
“This process hasn’t been easy, and history will judge whether it was all worth it in the end. Neither side has got everything that we wanted out of these negotiations, but they shouldn’t be approached with a winner-takes-all mindset.
“There’s no denying that the debate itself has at times been difficult and even acrimonious. Relationships within the game have been tested, and I know that’s been a bit of a turn-off for some fans. I think I can speak for Alistair when I say that both parties acknowledge and regret that, and now it’s very much up to us to put that behind us. In announcing this agreement we’re restoring certainty and beginning to repair relationships, especially with the fans.
“I’m very confident that by the time the first ball is bowled this summer, all of this will be well and truly behind us.”
Nicholson, meanwhile, was ecstatic that the revenue-sharing model had been retained and added that it was the one area the ACA refused to budge on.
“To have retained the revenue-sharing model and increased the level we have and ensure that men, women, domestic and international players receive a fair share is great news for the players and for the game,” Nicholson said. “It’s right that all players, men and women, will be partners in the game because that’s a fair outcome. It ensures a game with all parties pulling in the same direction.
“Success in this negotiation for the ACA was achieving revenue sharing for all players, gender equity, fair remuneration increases, greater input on scheduling and more grassroots investment. We have achieved those things, and on that basis, we recommend to the players that the deal be accepted.
“The revenue sharing model in which the players will share up to 30 percent of agreed revenue consisting of 27.5 percent of forecast revenue streams and a 2.5 percent performance pool. This is estimated to be up to $500m in the next five-year period.”
ACA president Greg Dyer added: “One MOU for men and women, the maintenance of the partnership model, and record investments for grassroots cricket is what we wanted and it’s what has been achieved,” Dyer said. “The men and women have been rewarded for sticking together and for having the courage of their convictions. They have made history and created a legacy for generations of players to come.
“In particular, I want to acknowledge the sacrifice of the Australia A team which demonstrated the depth of the resolve of the players to support each other. We also congratulate the players who have bravely made the case in the public domain. It will be important that they are respected for having the courage of their convictions.
“There is also a reality to confront. Yes, we’ve arrived at a great place but the game must never again take this same route. The players did not choose this route and did not enjoy being on it. In fact, the players resented it deeply. This was not a fight the players started. The players defended themselves as is fair and as is their right.”
Now that a deal has been reached, Sutherland admitted that Cricket Australia and the ACA need to repair the damage done so that they have a good working relationship going forward.
“Time will tell on that,” Sutherland said. “I’d like to think that in many ways, it’s good sport and we can all shake hands at the end of it and move on. It’s been difficult at times for lots of people, and we’ve all been dragged into the middle of it in one way or another. The important thing is to look forward … I’m really confident that those relationships will be strong. It’s our job as administrators to support the Australian players and those in state associations as well.”