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Players' revenue percentage still in CA's sights

James Sutherland drew parallels between the current situation and CA's deal with Channel Nine and stated that, "A partnership by definition isn't necessarily a share of revenue agreement." Getty Images

James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive, has stated that the board remains intent upon breaking up the fixed revenue-percentage model that sits at the core of disagreements with the players' union during the current round of pay Memorandum Of Understanding negotiations, and will again take its case to the players when submitting a formal offer in the next few weeks.

While saying CA was "absolutely committed to a partnership" with the Australian Cricketers Association, Sutherland said this did not mean a continuation of the revenue percentage agreement that has stood in various forms since the ACA was founded in 1997. He paralleled the players with other partners in the game, such as the long-time international television rights holders Channel Nine.

"A partnership by definition isn't necessarily a share of revenue agreement," Sutherland said on ABC Radio in Bengaluru. "We have lots of different agreements that are partnerships - for example with Channel Nine. We've been in partnership with them for 40 years, but it's not a share of revenue arrangement.

"But it's an understanding about what's good for Nine, good for cricket, and we work together on that basis. Similarly at a moment in time, our views are that perhaps that share of revenue arrangement is not so appropriate for the future. We'll go into some detail around that with the players.

"We've certainly had discussions and the next stage is for us to put a proposal on the table. We'll do that in the next little while and we'll formulate the basis for the next stage of discussions. We're absolutely committed to a partnership with the ACA, and our players."

Last month ESPNcricinfo revealed that Australia's Test captains Steven Smith and Meg Lanning had co-signed a letter to Sutherland asking that CA respect the ACA as the players' chosen collective-bargaining agent, and encouraged the two parties to get back to the negotiating table after talks broke down last December. Up to that point, CA had sought to take its case directly to the players, inviting Smith and his deputy David Warner to dinner in Melbourne while also sending email communications to all contracted players.

In the midst of Australia's bid to unseat India in a home Test series, Sutherland said the ongoing talks were not going to be allowed to become a distraction for the touring team. "We don't think so. We're in the flow with the discussions that are going on back home," he said.

"I think from the players' point of view, it's the furthest thing from their mind, they're absolutely ingrained in this contest here. And I think for them it seems a long, long way away. Things will bubble away back home, we will, I'm sure, make progress over the next little while. Bits and pieces will be written in the newspapers and they'll pick up snippets from there, but it won't be any sort of distraction for them."

Alistair Nicholson, chief executive of the ACA, responded to Sutherland by saying that the union was still seeking more detailed financial information from CA, and also that he would be speaking to the Test team in India after the second Test. "Contrary to reports in the past 24 hours, the players are keenly interested in the MOU negotiations as witnessed in my recently completed visits with each State playing group and with the national women's team," Nicholson said.

"And at the end of the second test I will be speaking to the Australian male players to provide them with an update to the current situation of negotiations. The ACA continues to ask for detailed financial information to inform this negotiation which is still being withheld by CA.

"The players remain committed to the Revenue Sharing Model that has served the game for the past 20 years and that must be extended to include all female players. Steve Smith, Meg Lanning, Dave Warner and Alex Blackwell wrote to CA in December requesting that CA deal directly with the ACA in the negotiations and stop writing to the players directly. I think we all expect that this wish be respected."

Among other things, Sutherland said that the Test squad's pre-tour preparations in Dubai at the ICC Global Academy may well be replicated for future assignments, given the array of facilities available there that comfortably outstrip the capacity of host countries to provide for the performance needs of Smith's team.

"I think we've learned a lot from that, and full credit to all of those involved in stepping it through - thinking about exactly what was required," Sutherland said. "I think for us looking ahead, certainly coming to this part of the world it will be hard to avoid in the future.

"For us it really does create an environment where even the best laid plans or best intentions of a host board here can't be matched with our needs and expectations. The ICC Global Cricket Academy were able to provide great conditions for us there, perfectly suited to the conditions that we anticipated we'd get here. Our players turned up, not only ready to play but ready to play in these conditions."