Cricket Australia is scrambling to soothe multiple concerns and map out a COVID-19 financial master plan with state associations and the players’ union as parallels to the ugly 2017 pay stoush begin to appear.
Star paceman Josh Hazlewood admitted on Monday he was surprised to see CA stand down the vast majority of its workers on 20 per cent pay for the rest of the financial year.
Hazlewood, who suggested as long as CA “show a lot of transparency on all the numbers, all the players will be pretty happy” regarding an inevitable dip in salary, wasn’t alone.
State associations, players and staff are keen to hear from CA chief executive Kevin Roberts as to how the governing body is in such poor financial shape after signing a landmark broadcast deal worth $1.2 billion and completing the 2019-20 season with minimal disruption.
Roberts, who is attempting to secure a $200m line of bank credit, is expected to field questions from workers then the media this week as he continues delicate and complex negotiations on several fronts.
CA’s board is set to convene multiple times throughout this week, while Roberts is on near-daily conference calls with his counterparts at state level regarding various scenarios for next summer and how their funding will be pared back.
The states’ financial positions vary widely so consensus has been predictably hard to come by.
Although the formation of a series of COVID-19 committees involving state and CA representatives – similar to what the AFL has done with its club chief executives – is a sign of collaboration.
Roberts, who was CA’s chief negotiator three years ago when its relationship with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) hit an all-time low, has seemingly prioritised a resolution with states before turning his attention to players.
The hard-fought Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) dictates that CA must, by April 30, submit a list of national contracts for 2020-21 plus updated revenue estimates to the ACA.
“The earlier we know that the more we can plan,” Hazlewood said.
Roberts and ACA boss Alistair Nicholson remain on good terms, having improved their relationship markedly since butting heads in 2017.
But the ACA’s pleas for greater financial transparency, one of many recurring themes during 2017, remain a point of clash.
Nicholson is expected to update players in coming days, having advised them on Friday that the union is still seeking detailed financials from CA.
In that email seen by AAP, Nicholson also notes “if you receive a call from CA about player payments, please refer them to the ACA”.
Roberts has contacted some senior players directly, painting a bleak picture of the cricket economy and advising CA is projecting a 50 per cent loss of income this summer.
Hazlewood hasn’t spoken with Roberts regarding the issue, but declared players are ready to “ride the lows” of their revenue-sharing pay model and the ACA-CA partnership has improved a lot since 2017.
“That will go a long way towards having this episode (play out) a lot better,” he said.
“Hopefully it’s a lot better communication.
“I think we’ll see that in the coming weeks and months.”