Cricket’s pay dispute: Players frustrated at tactics

Tim May, the man who pioneered cricket’s revenue-sharing model, has returned fire at Cricket , declaring the governing body is making pay negotiations unnecessarily difficult for players.

May said he would be “pissed off” if he was still a player under CA’s leadership, with players frustrated that CA has been contacting them individually during the dispute rather than primarily dealing with the n Cricketers Association.

His rebuke comes as the ACA will unveil on Friday its response to CA’s formal submission when the two parties meet. It’s understood ACA chief Alistair Nicholson will reject CA’s bid to revamp the pay system, the controversial move including plans to exclude Sheffield Shield players from the percentage model used over the past 20 years.

Tensions have heightened in the past week, with CA sources, as reported by Fairfax Media, questioning whether the players were being “led up the garden path” by the ACA, ahead of the June 30 deadline.

Each party maintains it will not budge on the key issue – how an estimated $419 million of payments ($362 million guaranteed) to players are distributed over the next five years through a new memorandum of understanding.

May said on Thursday the players remained united.

“Governing bodies always seem to be trying to divide the playing group by offering one group more than another, creating doubt when there shouldn’t be any doubt because they understand that the players’ strength is unity. It’s from the old handbook of trying to isolate parts of the group,” he said.

“You can see that at the moment. CA is sending out their proposals to the players directly when the players have specifically requested CA to recognise their bargaining agent, the ACA. If I was a player, I’d be really pissed off. But that’s what they’re dealing with – a governing body that’s making a difficult situation out of something that should be pretty straightforward.

“The ACA is there to protect the players. CA knows that. That’s why they’re trying to bypass them.”

In an email to players published by Fairfax Media this month, CA high-performance boss Pat Howard said he did not want the players to be the “meat in the sandwich” but said “we also believe in our right to directly inform players of our offer”.

CA’s planned model includes international men sharing in up to $16 million in set-percentage revenue, with the leading women sharing in up to $4 million. Shield players would be excluded for the first time since the maiden 1997 deal was brokered by May when he was in charge of the ACA.

Players also want $29 million of adjustment ledger money from the existing MOU paid out now, rather than carried forward into next deal, which CA has indicated it wants to do.

CA argues 80 per cent of revenue is uncontracted, with sponsorships and broadcast rights deals to be renegotiated, and says it’s impossible to provide specifics on revenue forecasts.

ACA president Greg Dyer has also questioned what CA does with the $460 million it has between the revenue pool shared with the players and the revenue which it receives.

Under CA’s plan, international men will have their average earnings increase from $1.16 million to $1.45 million by 2022.

The Southern Stars women will have their annual wages immediately leap from an average of $79,000 to $179,000.

Under CA’s plan, state-based male cricketers will pocket an average $235,000 by 2022, having enjoyed a 53 per cent increase in the past five years. The average wage of a female cricketer playing in the Women’s Big Bash League and state cricket will be $55,000.

CA says in its submission that it continues to seek medical advice “on the risks involved to a pregnant player” and will “continue to require that there is no discrimination against a player on the basis of pregnancy”.

Players are also frustrated over CA’s plans to have them carry the cost of payroll tax.

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