Australian cricket's state associations have knocked back a revised offer for annual grants from Cricket Australia, sending the chairman Earl Eddings and interim chief executive Nick Hockley back to the drawing board in terms of their calculations.
Hockley's predecessor Kevin Roberts was forced to resign due to a range of disputes over the game's finances amid the Covid-19 pandemic. While an interim arrangement has been reached with the Australian Cricketers Association for revenue calculations outside contract retainers and match fees to be made at a later date, New South Wales and Queensland remain at odds with CA's proposals for reductions to grants that totalled more than A$127 million in the organisation's most recent annual report.
The latest offer, understood to have been tabled to the objecting associations earlier this week by Hockley - with the implication that their agreement would lock all states into the deal - reverted from forecast figures to actual figures but also called for the states to match grant cuts dollar for dollar with CA revenue downturns, so if the governing body's revenue was down by 25%, the state associations would also take a 25% cut to their annual grants.
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While this linking of CA revenue to state grants appeared to offer improved terms, it was actually an inferior offer to that tabled to the states by Roberts and his chief operating officer Scott Grant in April. That proposal suggested that states would face a 25% cut to their grants only if CA suffered a 50% loss of revenue for the forthcoming summer, a scenario made moot by confirmation that India will fulfil its touring obligations and thus ensure a largely uninterrupted flow of broadcast rights cash into the game.
Under those terms, had CA lost less than 50% of forecast revenue, the reduction in the states' annual grants would reduce to less than 25%, likely to around half that percentage in the event that CA's in-flow of cash was down by 25% for the coming season.
CA's first offer to the states had been for a 40% cut to their annual grants over two years, a level of possible severity that likely helped to trigger cuts amounting to more than 150 staff being made redundant across the country.
Though it is unlikely that CA will cling to the most recent terms after the discrepancy was pointed out, its tabling to the states does not reflect well on Eddings' board, given they have remained present throughout the period and called in Hockley to work as a more agreeable and broadly respected chief executive, after Roberts had ultimately burned too many bridges across cricket. The search for the permanent CEO goes on.
However, the goodwill created by the change of chief executive has not been extinguished by this latest offer, with the states preferring to let Hockley and Eddings rework their figures rather than immediately agitating for more change.
Irrespective of whether CA's Board is dramatically recast in future, there will be change this year as a minimum of two board directors - Jacquie Hey and Paul Green - are up for re-election via a nomination committee and AGM process due to conclude in late October.
Other positions on the nine-person board may also be discussed, with Eddings due to serve one more year as part of a three-year term. His predecessor David Peever was returned for a second term in October 2018, before being compelled to depart when NSW withdrew its support a handful of days later.