Australia's pay dispute July 15, 2017

CA-ACA talks bring MoU closer 


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What is the Cricket Australia-ACA pay dispute about?

Two days of extensive talks have broken down barriers of rhetoric and transparency between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association, but the signing of a new MoU remains elusive.

As more than 230 of the nation's professional cricketers enter a third week of unemployment, the two parties are set to resume negotiations on Monday after a week in which they were at least able to communicate their positions, needs and options for flexibility to each other.

CA's long-time chief executive James Sutherland and his ACA counterpart Alistair Nicholson have been central to discussions following their lengthy one-on-one meeting on Tuesday. Their presence has brought a more pragmatic tone to talks that had previously been far less flexible and cordial.

Rather than ending a two-decade era of revenue sharing agreements between CA and the players, discussions are believed to have reverted to issues of cricket's rising cost base and the players' willingness to reduce their revenue percentage and narrow its definition to suit their shared interests with the board.

At the same time, CA's desire for strategic investments - such as expanding their digital arm and building grassroots facilities - without ceding a portion of their cost to the players has also been tackled. The players are believed to be open to excluding such areas from their revenue percentage, provided CA can outline what they are and for how long they must be exempt.

Another discussion now unfolding is the financial relationship between CA and the ACA. After the board expressed a desire to cease direct funding of the association, the ACA set up a commercial arm called the Cricketers Brand to sell rights to the players' intellectual property. It now appears likely that most of these rights will revert to CA for a fee that will in turn help fund the ACA but be much more closely linked to IP rights rather than simply being a catch-all grant.

While the improved dialogue marks a turning point in the pay war, time is short for the two parties to come to a formal agreement given all the time wasted in a public slanging match. The game's current and prospective commercial partners in particular are impatient for a resolution to end the standoff.

Apart from Sutherland's increased involvement, the back channel work of the player manager and ACA executive member Neil Maxwell has also been significant. As a former New South Wales seam bowler in the 1990s, Maxwell has been able to draw on relationships with the likes of his former teammates Mark Taylor and Kevin Roberts to help promote greater understanding between the parties. 

One of the key areas where this was required was how much the ACA was prepared to move away from the model used in the 2012 MoU, which gave the players 24.5-27% of Australian Cricket Revenue depending on the performance of the national team. 

In the words of Australia's captain Steven Smith: "Through the ACA we are willing to make important changes to modernise the existing model for the good of the game. We are and have always been willing to make those changes. Changes for how the model can be adapted for the even greater benefit of grass roots cricket, which is after all where we all started."

Nicholson and Sutherland, meanwhile, have been able to bring their financial expertise to the table.

"The increased involvement of CA CEO James Sutherland has been pleasing," Nicholson said. "A better understanding has been established on both parties' positions."

CA declined to comment.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Philip on July 20, 2017, 0:55 GMT

    It seems to me that ALL the poor cricketing decisions by our officials in the past few years seems to coincide with the appointment of James Sutherland. PC gobbledegook does not sit well with the cricket public. Not only this dispute,but the wrist slapping over serious offences committed by players,etc etc. Perhaps if he pulls the pin we can all move forward.

  • Prem on July 17, 2017, 2:26 GMT

    The current Australian men's team is no good at winning anything!

  • heathq1437344 on July 16, 2017, 5:15 GMT

    Finally things are looking up. Let's hope this is sorted sooner rather than latter and get these state cricketers paid. Not to concerned with those players higher up the pecking order but those not able to play IPL and other t/20 comps this must be very hard on them financially. Let's get the Aus team playing against BD as we need to improve our ability to play spin in these continents and you don't improve by not touring. Looking forward to this MOU getting signed soon. Still think Peever, Roberts and Howard need to go. Sutherland if he pulls this off has some breathing space, but he also needs to move on in the next 18 months.

  • Jose on July 16, 2017, 4:47 GMT

    Dunger & Chris

    Was looking for your views, for some time.

    Couldn't find anywhere!

    May be tired of this dragging dispute.

    Or, got lost in this re-branded world.

    Can't even figure out who is who, among the "new" posters!


    At last, found found you two.


    @Dunger: Looked for you near Dangar Falls. At the banks of Clarence river. Didn't even realize! You had been "Rob"bed. Became plain & simple Rob. Just doesn't matter. still a mate is always a mate. We could even agree to disagree without being disagreeable. Wasn't that great?


    @Chris_P: For Chist's sake, you became "Peter"! As in the singing group, "Peter Paul & Mary" , The NY based Music group of the early 60's, whom I used to enjoy during my student days at Harvard.


    I survived though. Almost intact. Except for a wee bit. I just stopped P-eeing! Lost the "P" in Jose P. Became plain & simple Jose.


    What is more important is that this mess may get cleared soon & cricket will be back on track. Hopefully!

  • rob on July 16, 2017, 3:49 GMT

    @ Jose: dunger.bob here. I think everyone is thoroughly sick of it and just couldn't be bothered. Even the trolls seem to have lost interest and wandered off. Silver linings and all that. .. Anyway, it's great that there seems to be something happening. Unless I'm reading this incorrectly they seem to be edging towards a modified version of the old deal. I'm loathe to point out that's what many of we fans suggested from the get go but I'm way past worrying about who's right and who's wrong. Like most of us down here I just want the damn thing fixed. I think we need to identify what went wrong but we can sort that out later. For the moment we should just concentrate on becoming functional once again.

  • Jose on July 16, 2017, 2:58 GMT

    Seems to have stopped taking comments after FIVE !

    Wonder WHY!

    Only after FIVE,

    We may get into SIXES & SEVENS.

    Which, we, anyway, are already in, thanks to CA & ACA.

  • Xiong on July 15, 2017, 12:16 GMT

    If CA just showed some clarity and transparency in what it was trying to achieve, how it was trying to achieve it, and why it was trying to achieve it, none of this would have happened in the first place.

  • Jose on July 15, 2017, 10:03 GMT

    @Bruce on July 15, 2017, 8:55 GMT

    The ACA & captain Smith in particular talked about their willingness to keep aside some revenue streams & some costs. If those are factored in, the "1.5% cut" looks a bit misleading. I presume, those "exclusions" are most likely to be some of the key issues they may be debating & deciding, in search of a badly needed resolution. Which all cricket lovers are looking forward to, eagerly.

    Truly wishing success for the new moves.

  • Bruce on July 15, 2017, 8:55 GMT

    @JONATHAN: The ACA proposal was to take 22.5% of revenue - a cut of 1.5% - knowing full well that CA revenues would increase and therefore the 'cut' was not going to affect the earnings of any of the players. A bit of a claytons proposal really, But, hey, if they are moving towards resolving the matter then that is fantastic news.

  • Jonathan on July 15, 2017, 8:17 GMT

    @James, it is not unclear at all, ACA have said repeatedly they'll take a cut to their share of revenues. Now they are saying they are open to leaving out some new revenue streams from their overall piece of the pie, if those are not compromises I don't know what are.

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