An ugly pay dispute between Cricket Australia and the players' union appears to have been averted, after the two parties agreed to defer revenue calculations until there is a clearer picture of the Covid-19 toll on the forthcoming season.
CA had previously sought a significant reduction in the amount of money to be distributed into the player payment pool negotiated with the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) as a fixed percentage of revenue under the MoU signed in 2017.
While this would not affect retainers and match fees for the looming season, the amounts passed onto the players as part of the "adjustment ledger" distributed annually to account for revenue above CA's 2017 projections stood to be drastically reduced. Anger at this move, combined with a similar dispute between CA and the state associations, had paralysed the game for more than three months up to the exit of the chief executive Kevin Roberts.
As recently as early June, Roberts and CA had claimed that projected revenue for the forthcoming summer would be almost halved by the impact of the pandemic, even though it had announced a full international schedule including an India tour valued at around A$300 million. The compromise, with the ACA agreeing to drop a formal notice of dispute that could have seen the players and the governing body go to court, means the revenue forecast calculation will not be made until the financial tale of the 2020-21 season is more readily able to be pieced together.
"Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers' Association have today agreed a way forward on Australian Cricket's response to COVID-19," a CA spokesman said. "The parties have agreed to postpone the Australian Cricket Revenue projection until such time they are better able to assess the financial impact of the pandemic and calculate a clear projection for the year ahead.
"With today's agreement, the ACA has agreed to withdraw its notice of dispute lodged last month with CA. We would like to thank the ACA for the constructive manner in which they have engaged in discussions in what has been a challenging time for the game."
CA's chairman Earl Eddings has been closely involved in board to board discussions with his ACA opposite number Greg Dyer, while the interim chief executive Nick Hockley had also entered talks with the ACA CEO Alistair Nicholson in recent days.
"Today's agreement is a significant step forward in cricket's response to the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic and should provide our stakeholders with renewed clarity and confidence about the summer ahead," the spokesman said.
"Calculating revenue projections 12 months ahead during a once-in-a-century pandemic has not been without its challenges, but we believe we have arrived at a position that provides all parties with greater certainty about how to navigate the next year.
"The ACR will be reassessed in due course, providing time to better assess the financial impact of the pandemic and calculate a clear projection for the year ahead."
Nicholson welcomed the resolution: "This 'reset' is both welcome and sensible. CA is free to reforecast again at various times over the next financial year, should there be a material revenue event affecting cricket."
CA remains in discussions with the state associations about their annual distributions, with reductions most vigorously opposed by New South Wales and Queensland. In the meantime, more than 150 state staff and 40 CA staff have been made redundant from their roles.