Alan Jones slams Cricket Australia over ‘money grab’ handling of pay dispute

Eleventh hour talks have failed to produce a breakthrough this week and relations have soured to the point that the players’ union is refusing to deal with Cricket Australia’s (CA) lead negotiator.

The ongoing pay dispute between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) is expected to continue till July after the latter declared that it is “highly improbable” the sport’s bitter pay conflict will be resolved by June 30, the date of expiry of the MoU between two governing bodies.

He said Australian cricket risked being the “laughing stock of the world” if no deal was struck and defended the players against claims of greed, saying they deserved better from the current administration.

CA pointed out how its offer in March, which included women in a single MoU for the first time – introducing a 125% increase in the average pay for their global women cricketers – was rebuffed and following that, another offer made last week was similarly rejected. The game has changed fundamentally since then: players are now justifiably well rewarded and the modern challenge is the chronic under-funding of the grassroots of the game, particularly junior cricket.

“CA does not intend that retainers would be back paid to cover any elapsed period between your current contract expiring and the execution of a new contract when a new MOU is agreed”. It is unfortunate that the ACA’s hard line and inflexible position has not been conducive to delivering any positive outcomes or certainty for players.

The Daily Telegraph reports that players may be offered “unpaid contracts” whereby the big names could tour and would be covered by insurance but receive no payment.

If it wasn’t hard enough just to put the best players on the field and win cricket matches in the whirlwind global schedule of the modern game, Australian cricket is in the middle of the biggest self-inflicted crisis since Kerry Packer split the game in the 1970s.

Howard also warned players not to sign any deals with sponsors that are not affiliated with Cricket Australia. The 14-man squad had been due to gather in Brisbane on Tuesday, with the opening match on July 14. However, if all players stand down and the Australia ‘ A’ tour is cancelled prematurely, it could leave the Bangladesh tour and later the Ashes in real jeopardy.

Players are fighting for the retention of the revenue-share model that has been in place for 20 years, but CA says such a pay structure is not sustainable.

“If the players stick firm this mob are going to have to eat humble pie, that’s the only answer – they ought to be doing it now”.

There would still be more than four months for an agreement between the ACA and CA to be reached before this summer’s Ashes series. From there, the stakes get progressively higher, with a two-test series in Bangladesh starting in August, a one-day global series in India in October and the five-test Ashes series at home to England kicking off in November. With the deadline set to end tonight, the CA urged the ACA to start the negotiation process afresh.

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