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Pay 'summit' option to resolve CA-ACA dispute

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia CEO Getty Images

A multi-day intensive "summit" between negotiators for Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) has been discussed as a possible way of moving forward from the current pay dispute, less than four weeks away from the June 30 expiry of the current MoU.

Tentative talks between the board and the players have been going on for a little more than a week, in spite of continued public sparring taking the shape of fresh videos and graphics released by CA's lead negotiator Kevin Roberts and subsequent ripostes by the ACA.

While Roberts has met with the ACA's legal counsel Joe Connellan and a mediation lawyer, John Whelan, who has been consulting for the players' association, ESPNcricinfo understands that the ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson and his CA counterpart James Sutherland have also spoken in recent days about ways to find progress.

It was Sutherland's letter to Nicholson on May 12, threatening to leave players unemployed if an agreement to CA's terms was not reached by the end of June, that escalated tension between the two parties after six months of largely fruitless meetings, claims and ambit proposals.

Apart from the major difference between the parties - CA's desire to breakup the fixed revenue percentage model and the ACA's equally strong intent to retain it - there have also been disconnects around how talks should be structured. CA has expressed a preference for starting the process by discussing many of the areas in which the two parties share common ground, allowing these details to be ticked off while building a better relationship dynamic with which to tackle the more difficult issues.

However, the ACA is understood to prefer dealing directly with the fundamental differences between the parties to begin with, allowing for a shared position on revenue sharing to underpin and underline all subsequent talks. The players' association is believed to have suggested getting the two parties together earlier in the process without either side bringing their respective pay proposals with them - a request that was not granted by CA.

The prospect of a long-haul summit over two days or more, in order to thrash out many of the issues currently dividing the board and the players, has been raised between the two parties as one option to find a workable passage towards an agreement.

A similar approach was taken earlier this week in concurrent pay talks between Australia's rugby league governing body, the National Rugby League (NRL), and the Rugby League Players Association. The opposing sides devoted two days to intensive talks in Sydney, concluding the summit by releasing a joint statement to say talks had been "constructive" though plenty of work remains to be done.

The announcement of a pay deal in the Australian Football League is also imminent, with the league and the AFL Players Association set to unveil a deal that will bring in elements of revenue sharing to their next collective bargaining agreement - something NRL players are also seeking. All Australian sports have looked towards cricket's 20-year model as a way of balancing prosperity with a prolonged period of industrial relations peace.