Temporary series-by-series contracts likely for Aussie stars

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Australia’s top cricketers may have to contemplate signing temporary series-by-series contracts, should they decide to spurn a new revenue model Cricket Australia remains determined to introduce. Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers Association remain at loggerheads during discussions over an updated memorandum of understanding, with the players still frustrated by CA’s refusal to hand over figures detailing the sport’s revenue platforms, according to Sydney Morning Herald.

It’s understood CA is set to officially table their MOU offer within weeks, meaning the elite players will need to take a firm stand on whether they really do oppose their Sheffield Shield brethren being locked out of a proposed new revenue sharing model. As it stands, the international players remain opposed to CA’s plan to have only CA-contracted players share in the percentage revenue model used since 1998. But what is dangling before them is the lucrative opportunity, according to CA’s initial submission, to “earn a higher share of financial returns instead of a lower share of revenue, as they earn in the current MOU”.

The average international retainer this season was Australian $703,000, but skipper Steve Smith, David Warner and Mitchell Starc pocket more than Aus $2 million when their heightened retainers, tour and match fees and prize money are included.

The current MOU expires on June 30, 2017, just weeks after the revamped Champions Trophy is held in England.

Australia’s next series after that is the yet-to-be confirmed tour of Bangladesh from early August, where two Tests and three one-day internationals have been slated, pending safety and security clearance. Should that tour be given the go ahead, one player source raised the question whether players would be prepared to boycott the trip should a pay offer be unacceptable. Such a move would hurt CA in terms of broadcast rights.

The Southern Stars could also have a major decision to make, given a World Cup in England will be held in July. Another option would be for CA and the ACA to at least have an in-principle agreement on the fundamental planks of the new MOU, although this time the core plank – the set percentage model for players of all levels – is what is at stake.

In an opinion piece published by Fairfax Media on Tuesday, ACA president Greg Dyer wrote that all players were unified in ensuring domestic male players be included in the revenue-sharing model. He said a new philosophy had emerged at CA: “A new language of ‘control’ in which increasingly the players seem to be regarded as cost cente or not generating enough return on investment.

CA did not wish to respond publicly to Dyer’s comments. In its initial submission, CA said state men’s retainers have grown by more than 50 per cent in the past four years, averaging $234,000 this season. Under CA’s plan, state-based players would be paid from a lump sum, with any major increase to be “driven” by Big Bash League payments.

CA will also need to deliver a satisfactory deal for women, with Dyer adamant they be included in a revenue-sharing model. CA says the pay and benefits for the Southern Stars players would “significantly increase” under its plan but has so far excluded them from sharing in a percentage model.

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