Australia news June 8, 2012

Players "$80 million richer" in new deal - Sutherland

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, has used the old industrial relations tactic of revealing how much better off the country's cricketers will be over the next five years if the players union accepts the board's offer in the current round of MOU negotiations.

On the day the players took part in an annual golf day devised to raise money for the Australian Cricketers Association player hardship fund, Sutherland said their payments would be improved "in the vicinity of $80 million" over the next five years under the terms put to them by CA.

"We have put a very substantial offer on the table, it's in the vicinity of $80 million more over a five-year period than what we paid in the preceding five-year period," Sutherland told AAP. "And $80m is a lot of money - and that is based on our conservative revenue projections. 

"If we go halfway towards meeting our more optimistic ambitions with revenue growth, that increase in player payments will be even more significant than $80m."

Sutherland expressed his "surprise and disappointment" at what he suggested was a lack of flexibility by the Australian Cricketers Association, as MOU negotiations continue to drag.

However Paul Marsh, the ACA chief executive, stressed that the players had already conceded plenty of territory to CA in its efforts to implement a more performance-based pay structure for the national team in particular, and were not prepared to cede anymore ground. Marsh described the $80 million figure as "misleading"

"I'm not sure why anyone at CA would be surprised at the stance the ACA and players are taking on this issue," Marsh told ESPNcricinfo. "The simple facts are that we currently have a deal with CA where players receive 26% of a defined pool of revenue. CA now wants to dilute that pool of revenue and therefore our real share of revenue.

"In addition they want to change the model from a fixed 26% share to a variable model where players could earn as little as 24% but up to 27%. We think CA's current proposal is designed to see players receive less than their current 26% share and therefore it's not fair, but in saying that I think with a bit more work we can find a model that can work for both parties.

"The players and ACA have been more than reasonable in these negotiations. We've agreed to reduce the number of Australian contracts, we've agreed to a variable percentage share of revenue model even though it could mean players receive less than their current share but CA still want us to give back more. Well we've given all we're prepared to give in these negotiations."

The most recent heated pay dispute between CA and the players took place in 1997-98, the battle lines drawn from the moment the board released individual player salaries to the media in an effort to win the public relations high ground.

Marsh has described industrial action as "the absolute last resort" in a dispute that is likely to keep raging right up to the June 30 deadline. Australia's squad for an ODI tour of the United Kingdom is set to arrive in London on June 14.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here