The good news is that Cricket Australia and the players’ body, the Australian Cricketers’ Association, are talking again. The bad news is that they’re going round in circles.
On Wednesday, CA chairman David Peever wrote to counterpart Greg Dyer and all players to reject the ACA’s request for the bodies to try mediation.
“While CA absolutely shares your stated desire for a new agreement … it seems extraordinary to be considering the involvement of a mediator before the ACA has attempted to negotiate,” Peever wrote.
“The approach the ACA has taken in demanding certain preconditions be met before it is prepared to begin negotiations is the fundamental reason why no progress has been made to date.”
But Dyer protested the idea that the ACA had failed to negotiate, saying it had sat across the table for more than 20 hours since last November. “To make inaccurate statements about negotiations not having begun is poor form and clearly not consistent with good faith discussions,” Dyer said.
The two bodies have been at or near loggerheads for more than six months. CA is determined to scrap revenue-sharing after 20 years, saying more funds are needed for the game’s grassroots, and that its offer provides handsomely for players. The ACA is equally resolved to keep revenue-sharing, saying the system is not broken and does not need fixing.
The notional deadline is June 30, when the current memorandum of understanding expires. There was an escalation last week when CA chief executive James Sutherland told players they would become unemployed if they did not agree to a new MOU by the deadline. In response, Test vice-captain David Warner said the players may seek opportunities elsewhere, decimating the Australian team with an Ashes series approaching and tickets selling fast.
At the same time, Dyer proposed mediation. On Wednesday, Peever rejected this. “The preconditions you set out in your letter are unacceptable to CA,” he wrote. “They may be genuine issues of contention from the ACA’s perspective, however they should not be an insurmountable barrier to even commencing good faith negotiations.”
Instead, Peever suggested the two parties resume talks on the formal offer, identifying common ground and isolating items on which they disagree. “I am confident that such an exercise would find much common ground, a way forward on outstanding issues and build momentum,” he wrote.
But Dyer was adamant that mediation was the only logical way forward. “The players have categorically rejected CA’s offer given that it did not include the revenue-sharing model,” he said. “The current successful model has been presented by the ACA with a number of solutions regarding increases in grassroots cricket, flexibility in investment and sharing of risk; yet CA appears unwilling to talk about our approach.
“How does CA expect to get a deal done by June 30?”