ACB / Australian Cricketers Association dispute latest (24 Oct 1997)

Australian Players Dispute

Developments: 24 October 1997 _________________________________________________________________

Following the breakdown of talks between the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA), the ACB has written to all first-class cricketers in Australia explaining the ACB's stance on the dispute. (Full text of the letter appears below.) The ACB has also invited all six state captains to a briefing in Melbourne next week on the ACB's finances. The ACA have not been invited to this meeting. Some state captains have said that they will only attend the meeting if ACA representatives, including Tim May, are permitted to observe as well. Tasmanian captain David Boon has stated his intention to attend. NSW captain Mark Taylor will be unavailable because of a NSW tour match against New Zealand next Wednesday but has stated that he would be willing for an ACA representative to attend in his place. There are differing opinions among players as to whether they would proceed with strike action if the situation arose. NSW all-rounder and ACA executive member Greg Matthews, when asked about rumours of strike action, replied "Talk is cheap." He further stated that a vote of all 111 ACA members would be necessary before strike action could be taken. _________________________________________________________________

ACB Letter to Players:

The following is the text of the letter sent by ACB chairman Denis Rogers to all first-class cricketers this week, and released to the media today:

"Dear (player) I am writing this letter to all of the senior level cricketers in Australia in regard to a grave matter concerning the future welfare and viability of cricket in Australia. As a senior player within the Australian cricket system, you are a major stakeholder in our game and the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) believes it is imperative that you be kept informed of serious developments within our game. The Directors and staff of the ACB regard every member of a state squad across Australia as a valuable resource of Australian cricket. However, we care equally for those thousands across the country who comprise the very heart of the game - from school children first learning our sport in development programs through to the 350,000 registered club players across the breadth of the nation. As you are no doubt aware, the ACB has conducted talks with the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) over the last few months. Those talks were broken off in serious circumstances on Wednesday, 22nd October, and the ACB feels it must outline the reasons concerning such action to the players - the stakeholders in the game. The ACB moved quickly to recognise the right of the ACA to have a role in the future of the game when its existence was first mooted in early 1995 and the ACB donated significant funds to assist in its formation. The ACB saw the ACA as having a vital role in issues of player welfare and the status of those who play the game at the highest level. This view has never changed and the ACB entered into talks with the ACA on these very issues this year in good faith. The ACB is aware that the world of sport is changing and that player associations have a role to play in sport. As part of this change, and following discussions with senior Australian players, the Board has indicated its preparedness to disclose the full financial details of cricket in this country. This will still be done next week. As talks on Tuesday 21st October in Melbourne, the ACB was given its first opportunity to see the proposed log of claims of the ACA. The ACA requested that this document be the basis for talks on 22nd, 23rd and 24th October. Upon consideration, the ACB decided to cease discussions because its view was that the ACA's document had far over-reached the role of a players' association. Please be assured that this step was not taken lightly. There were several matters of great concern to the ACB. Foremost of these is that the ACB does not agree the ACA should have a veto on the way the ACB and the State Associations run their businesses, right down to when and where matches are played. Consultation with the ACA is at the forefront of the ACB's considerations but the ACA's proposal would mean that vital aspects of Australian cricket would effectively be run by a joint committee and supervised by a third party outside the game. The ACB has moved last season and this season to implement significant increases in player payments. It is our view that the level of payment increases requested by the ACA throws into doubt the whole future of Sheffield Shield and club cricket. The ACB believes this picture will become clearer upon full disclosure of the game's finances next week. In closing, the ACB acknowledges that the ACA has a role to play in the game and does not want to shut the door entirely on discussions between the two parties. Unfortunately, the current ACA document will prevent meaningful talks. The ACB believes it must always look to the wider interests of Australian cricket and players at all levels. I, along with ACB CEO Malcolm Speed, am always available for any player who may wish to discuss these matters further. Yours sincerely. DENIS W ROGERS Chairman"