By Pat Galloway
With six weeks before the memorandum of understanding expires, players and CA are still at odds. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
Australian Cricketers’ Association boss Alistair Nicholson is refusing to back down from his position in the latest round of negotiations with Cricket Australia over a new pay deal.
There are now only six weeks to go until the current memorandum of understanding (MOU) expires.
Nicholson is now calling on third-party mediators to help settle the dispute, with both sides unwilling to budge.
“We haven’t been able to progress the fundamental issue which is around the revenue-sharing model,” Nicholson said.
“With June 30 coming, we think it’s important that we go to mediation.”
Cricket Australia made an offer in March, which it spruiked heavily as a win for the game’s leading female players, who would receive a record pay rise.
It was rejected and the Players’ Association tabled a counter offer, which also fell on deaf ears.
Speaking on the Nine Network on Sunday, Cricket Australia board member and former Australian captain Mark Taylor voiced his opinion that the Players’ Association was not negotiating in good faith.
“I am not surprised James has done what he’s done. Things have not been going anywhere for months now,” Taylor said.
“Cricket Australia feels the ACA aren’t negotiating at all.
“Cricket Australia wants to change the MOU, we want to get away from what they call the revenue-sharing model.”
Many players have openly expressed their desire to maintain the current model, which sees players receive a fixed share of Cricket Australia’s overall revenue.
Meg Lanning tweet: All players- Male, Female, Domestic & International are fully supportive of a revenue share model #fairshare
Taylor suggested the Players’ Association’s strategy was established well before they knew what Cricket Australia was even going to offer.
Shane Watson tweet: Well said @mstarc56. It will be an interesting game of cricket without any players. #fairshare
“I had players say to me in January of this year that we could well be on strike by July. This is well before this MOU was even presented,” Taylor said.
“The costs of revenue are going up in sport all the time and every sport will say that.”
Perhaps in this dispute, cricket is a victim of its own success.
The sport’s revenue over the last four years has tripled. In 2016 it listed its operating income at over $333 million. This has been fuelled in part, by the success of the Big Bash.
Importantly on the eve of this new MOU, cricket is yet to sign off on a new broadcast deal for 2018 and beyond in a market where broadcasters seem to be willing to do whatever it takes to maintain increasingly precious live sport programming.
The next deal could be a windfall for the game and the players want their share.
Nicholson stopped short of predicting a player strike, but says right now there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the deal.
“The players are behind us and our position. If we get to June 30 and we haven’t got to where we need to be, then we will work through that as a playing group,” he said.
Ironically, if both parties fail to come to terms it will be the game as a whole that loses.
The clock is ticking.