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Cricket isn’t owned by the players

Dominic Marsh Roar Rookie

By Dominic Marsh, Dominic Marsh is a Roar Rookie New author!

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    As a passionate cricket fan, I’m disappointed in the current drama unfolding between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA). As a lover of Australian cricket, I’m disgusted.

    Who is right and who is wrong? Is there really any side which is more right than the other? I guess that this is a matter of opinion. For what it’s worth, my feet stand firmly with Cricket Australia as the administrators of our national game.

    Why? Because they’re the ones charged with ensuring the success of all levels of Australian cricket.

    Like it or not, agree with it or not. The fact is that the health of the game in this country is the responsibility of Cricket Australia and the board – not the responsibility of those in the national team.

    For many, the current divide between the two parties is somewhat confusing. Let me try and explain the situation as it stands. For the last 20 years, the players have shared in all revenue generated by Cricket Australia (CA).

    It is called the ‘revenue sharing agreement’. It came about in 1997, at a time when Australia’s cricketers were still poorly paid. No one could argue that is the case anymore.

    Last November, discussions began to try and confirm the new payment model for all Australia’s cricketers as the current MoU was due to expire the following June. The players representative, the Australian Cricketer’s Association (ACA) had preluded discussions by attempting to expand the current revenue-sharing system to include all digital revenue – in essence, seeking even more money.

    Conversely, CA was proposing a change to the current structure. It was suggesting adopting a profit sharing system (whereby players would share profits between them – capped at $20 million) as well as fixed wages to all international and state players, including female players.

    CA we’re proposing this because the revenue sharing model is outdated. Costs for running cricket have increased. CA want to invest more in grassroots cricket and in marketing the game.

    Australia’s international stars are paid millions per year. Australia’s state cricketers are paid on average, more than twice the average Australian wage. Under CA’s proposal, Australia’s female stars would receive a pay increase of $100k per year.

    So, what is the issue? It’s pretty simple: money. It’s what drives all workplace related angst. Don’t be fooled by any other rhetoric being spun by players or the ACA.

    Indeed, their inconsistent messages simply provide further evidence of the fact this is purely financially driven. Dave Warner, the somewhat strange choice as spokesperson for the players said on the June 18 “we won’t budge from the revenue sharing model. We want fairness and equality for all domestic and female players.”

    It was then made known that actually, domestic state players are for all intents and purposes, well paid and that as previously stated, the female players were due an increase of $100k under the CA model.

    So, when former Australian opening batsman Michael Slater challenged another ACA spokesperson, Ed Cowan, last week on radio about the players perhaps being greedy, the reasoning had changed from it being about equality for the domestic and female players to being about “keeping a check on Cricket Australia and how they spend the money”.

    Players now claim that it’s not about money at all but rather a distrust of how the administrators actually administer the game.

    Glenn Maxwell congratulates David Warner

    (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

    This is when I start having a real issue. Are we expected to believe that Warner, Steve Smith, Mitch Starc, Glenn Maxwell, even Cowan really care about how CA ‘divvy’ up the remaining revenue? Does being an exceptional cricketer provide one with experience on being a sports administrator?

    Of course it doesn’t. And only the bleedingly naive would believe for a second that the players are really concerned with the way in which CA administer the game. Indeed, under the current model, if you believe Cowan, the players must be extremely active in providing opinion on all matters from marketing and coach education to grass roots. Spare me.

    The fact is that the players know that, longer term, it’s not in their best interests financially to eradicate the current revenue sharing model. It’s that simple. It does not for a second mean that they won’t be well compensated for their amazing skill and performance.

    In this current climate, I often hear or read someone say ‘the players are the game’ as some sort of justification for their current demands. Utter rubbish. The game is owned by all Australian fans – not by the elite 15 contracted cricketers.

    It’s a game that people love because of our proud history in the sport. The game is flush both financially and participatory at the moment because as fans and cricket lovers, we pay to support our national team, we pay to play because we love the sport. This has long been the case, even before Warner and co.

    It must not be forgotten that these international players earn a large amount of money because of everyday fans. Because of the coaches and junior clubs that supported and nurtured them along their journey – because of the very system they are currently questioning and tearing apart.

    For these players to even consider putting at risk Australian cricket fans’ greatest love – the Ashes – just demonstrates how far removed from reality they are.

    I never thought I’d say this but I’d rather the Ashes series was cancelled than provide these self indulgent, pampered prima donnas with a cent more than they’re worth.

    CA aren’t perfect and they will continue to make mistakes, but they must continue to stand firm for the survival of the sport in this country. It is their responsibility to run cricket. Cricket isn’t owned by the players. It’s owned by the wider cricket community.

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    The Crowd Says (174)

    • July 11th 2017 @ 6:17am
      Luke said | July 11th 2017 @ 6:17am | ! Report

      How are the players being greedy in all this? Under their proposal, if revenue goes up they get a pay rise. If revenue drops, they get a pay cut. Seems fair enough considering the public consume cricket to watch the players and not administrators.

      CA have been extremely dishonest throughout this process. They have refused to provide detailed financial records to anyone, have anywhere between 70-100 million dollars in cash reserves (why was this money saved and not invested in grassroots), increased administrative costs by more than double in 5 years, are trying to roll over money earnt in the previous deal into this deal and have largely failed in making a public case as to why the players need to accept their deal other than trust us.

      Serious questions need to be answered transparently by CA before any reasonable person can start laying the blame squarely at the feet of the players.

      • July 11th 2017 @ 3:49pm
        Nathan said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

        Luke the issue is they are well paid and have been offered pay rises (as they should be). If they want bigger pay rises, fair enough. Fight for that. But admit that is what you are doing. Don’t dress it up as fighting for the little guy, or a better structure for cricket etc.

        Their published offer seeks $595M, being $100M more than the raises CA offered. Fine. But don’t say it’s not about money.

        It is not unusual for a not for profit to have cash reserves. Would you rather they were in debt like almost every other national cricket board? Agree they shouldn’t “stockpile” unnecessarily, but some buffer given the commercial deals up in the air is not inappropriate.

        The rollover issue is not well understood. By insisting on being paid it now the 2012-2017 players are profiting at the expense of those who played before them and/or will play after them. They are keeping money earned by 2011 players.

        $17M from 2011 was rolled over into the 2012-2017 payment pool to smooth player income rather than have a spike in 2011 payments. So it was earned by 2011 players but paid to 2012-2017 players. CA wanted to rollover today’s value of $17M into the next mou to prevent double dipping by the 2012-2017 players (to prevent them keeping money other players earned)..

        The 2012-2017 players refused to roll it over. They were contractually entitled to do that. But by not rolling it over and if they don’t pay that money back to the 2011 players, which they won’t, then the 2012-2017 players have profited at the expense of the 2011 players and/or the players under the next mou.

        Any player who retired in 2011 must be spewing.

        The revenue share model must go for 2 key reasons:

        1. It ignores costs; and

        2. It cripples investment in growth.

        I have given an example in another comment, but investment to grow revenue is critical to any business’s viability. RS means CA needs a 32% return on any investment in growth to break even once the players’ revenue share comes out. There is little point in CA making such investments because it is most likely to lose money under the RS model.

        This simply must change so CA can freely invest to grow our game.

        Pay all players really well, absolutely. More than CA has offered? Fine, negotiate your hardest. But cricket needs a new model.

        Happy for part of the deal to be for CA to make some admin savings to go to grassroots.

        There must be a way of getting a fair outcome for players without revenue sharing. Talking about it would be a good start.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm
          Luke said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

          There are some fair points you raise. However there are still concerning issues (such as why CA have decided not to disclose their financial records) that CA have inadequately explained to the general public and by the sounds of it the players as well.

          Also if revenue sharing is such a bad thing why do leagues such as the NBA and NFL use it? As far as i am aware the AFL just negotiated a form of it in their EBA as well.

          It is hard to stomach CA’s position that the players should get rid of the revenue sharing system to help fund grassroots when they refuse to provide any satisfactory documentation to back up their position. To me they have failed to prove their argument and worse still, have been the ones slinging mud in the public debate.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 8:27pm
            Nathan said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:27pm | ! Report

            Luke – CA say given so much rev is up in the air all they have is formulas and projections to rely on and ACA have whatever CA has. ACA disputes this.

            Re US sport (NBA etc) they only run their league, not the whole sport, do RS works for them. They don’t have shield, junior elite pathways, grassroots, game development etc.

            AFL is different too as I understand it (else ACA would crow about it and they’re not). Their wages are fixed, then calculated to be 28% of AFL projected rev, then portrayed it as a RS deal. The AFL doesn’t have the growth investment issue because it’s not a true gross RS deal, like ACA has and wants.

            CAs arguments and explanations are on its website and twitter account. The problem is the growth investment issue is not straightforward to explain or understand (but crippling to the business).

            Agree CA might have got their message out better.

            It has been hard given how prolific the players have been on social media and the views expressed by most commentators – who seem to be fed info by players.

            As to mud slinging, not sure I agree, but if that’s your view fair enough.

            Not saying CA squeaky clean btw. Plenty to improve not least it’s relationship with the players. But strongly against the RS model and some of the messaging out of the ACA (of which I’m a member).

            • July 11th 2017 @ 11:07pm
              BrainsTrust said | July 11th 2017 @ 11:07pm | ! Report

              Cricket Australia are hardly a business that competes with others and their costs are fairly small compared to their revenue. They have the reverse issue to a business which would just give excess profits to its shareholders. They would have been struggling to spend all the money they were getting without the Big Bash spend. They could have of course spent it on the grass roots instead of having an 8 team over promoted Big Bash with 4 new teams that initially drew the worst crowds, a shorter state version of the T20 without the foreign players and the truckload of gimmicks and massive marketing spend would have turned a profit straight away and given them even more money to spend on something else. At this point the big investment in the Big Bash would be getting to the stage of breaking even or making a profit so why do they need another round of further deeper investment and what is it going to be spent on.
              A bigger Big Bash going two months with more teams?
              Their own media propaganda unit like the AFL?
              Maybe you can enlighten us.

    • July 11th 2017 @ 8:24am
      baz said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:24am | ! Report

      I agree with article it is a power play by the players and the ACA wants to destroy cricket really.
      You do need a war chest to ride out the ups and downs that different teams attract in revenue.
      No player wants less one year than the previous that is bull.

      • July 11th 2017 @ 7:13pm
        Chui said | July 11th 2017 @ 7:13pm | ! Report

        The ACA wants to destroy cricket?

        Hyperbole much?

    • July 11th 2017 @ 9:12am
      Reynard Fox said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:12am | ! Report

      Another article that talks about the surface and ignores what is underneath. A corporate union buster that is well practiced in screwing workers in other industries has now found himself unable to bust the ACA, a union for cricketers. Ditch the loser heading CA and watch this problem vanish overnight.

      • July 11th 2017 @ 9:34am
        davros said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:34am | ! Report

        exactly Mr Fox !!!

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      July 11th 2017 @ 9:28am
      Wayne said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

      Board members probably have performance bonuses tied to ramming deal through. The whole thing has turned into being the “best loser” because there wont be a winner

    • July 11th 2017 @ 9:33am
      davros said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:33am | ! Report

      just more ill informed cockwomble …just because your a “cricket fan” doesnt mean you have an understanding of anything much really ! And this article just proves that !

      Did C A pay you to write this guff ?

      • July 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm
        Dominic Marsh said | July 11th 2017 @ 12:02pm | ! Report

        A well articulated response there Davros. The facts are the worst Australian team in 25 years is holding the game to ransom – why? More money. They are well paid to play – not administer. Perhaps try and add something useful in future.

        • July 11th 2017 @ 12:38pm
          rock said | July 11th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          Maybe do a bit more investigation before writing an article then, and try to be objective within – otherwise you open yourself up to any response.

          You fail to mention that state cricketers actually lose out a lot in CA’s new approach, that a ‘profit sharing’ model doesn’t provide the players – who are the product – certainty, as it has absolutely no control of how costs are distributed. Admin costs in the last few years have risen to be not far off player payments, so judging by the current trajectory it’s not hard to see why all players want more certainty through a revenue sharing agreement.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm
            Dominic Marsh said | July 11th 2017 @ 1:18pm | ! Report

            Rock, state cricketers (as my article states) are paid on average more than double the average Australian wage – and many of them much more than that. In my opinion as the article suggests, that is more than enough for players who actually DO NOT contribute a great deal to the overall revenue.
            The current admin costs incurred by CA are actually about half of what the payment costs to players are.
            What people forget in all of this is that it costs to run the game. It costs to manage grass roots (whether you think CA do a good job at this or not), it costs for Development, it costs to market the game, it costs to provide coach education. This is the job of the administrators. Not of the players. Where do our next players come from? Smith and Co will be gone in 10 years and do you think for a moment that they will care about infrastructure in the game or will they just go off and enjoy their millions?

            • July 11th 2017 @ 1:30pm
              GJ said | July 11th 2017 @ 1:30pm | ! Report

              Your attitude towards what state players are paid is telling. My brother in law made the comment that he was paid $43 a day when he was playing shield cricket. His other comment was that a lot of past players cringe at what shield cricketers can potentially earn now. But thats not the point.

              The health of the herd is and should determined by the condition of and how we treat the weakest members not the strongest.

              Not many players at elite level earning great money. And there are lot of other options for income in other sports now.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 1:35pm
                Dominic Marsh said | July 11th 2017 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

                Thanks for the comment. Good to see some healthy debate.
                Mate I agree in principal with your views – however, I believe that state players earn enough. These players receive more than twice on average than the average Australian. Let’s see how someone who busts a gut to earn $50k p/a feels about someone being paid $120k plus to play cricket feels.
                Let’s also not forget that most the players do not actually contribute a hell of a lot to the overall revenue.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 1:40pm
                GJ said | July 11th 2017 @ 1:40pm | ! Report

                Personally, I wouldn’t care if the state players were all earning $500K a year. Good luck to them.

                I want our junior cricketers to stay in the sport and regularly flog India in India and England in England. The fact not many reach the elite level of test cricket shouldn’t matter. We currently need Shield cricket to nurture this talent.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 5:15pm
                ches said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:15pm | ! Report

                $43 dollars a day? Who is your brother in law? Can we see some paperwork backing up this claim?

                Remember shield cricket has Zero commercial value from both TV and putting bottoms on seats.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 5:51pm
                GJ said | July 11th 2017 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

                ches – He played Shield cricket in the 80’s. I have no intention of sharing any other details on this forum. I think you may have misunderstood the context of my comment.

            • July 11th 2017 @ 2:25pm
              rock said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:25pm | ! Report

              “Rock, state cricketers (as my article states) are paid on average more than double the average Australian wage – and many of them much more than that.”

              And as with every sportsperson, there is a much much shorter lifespan on this career then the ‘average Joe’ – hence the reason that the average wade is higher to compensate for on average a very short career lifespan.

              “In my opinion as the article suggests, that is more than enough for players who actually DO NOT contribute a great deal to the overall revenue.”

              Oh, I must have missed where we are now selecting our national players straight from local grade cricket – fact is, without state cricket in all formats you don’t get the development required for a solid national team to earn all that revenue – something you seem to be completely ignoring.

              “What people forget in all of this is that it costs to run the game……This is the job of the administrators. Not of the players.”

              CA admin costs are circa 55% of what is paid to all players – the sole product and revenue earner of the game. That proportion of admin cost compared to your COGS, IMO is quite frankly ludicrous.

              • July 11th 2017 @ 8:41pm
                Ian Whitchurch said | July 11th 2017 @ 8:41pm | ! Report

                Note that the 50th best halfback flanker playing AFL – Tendai Mzungu – earns about the same as the 50th best cricketer.

                Nick Smith could have been the next Shane Warne. But he made absolutely the right decision to pick AFL.

                Similarly, Stephen Coniglio captained WA’s under 18s, and could have become an excellent batsman. But he made absolutely the right decision to pick AFL.

                By diverting the revenue away from players and towards administrators, Cricket Australia is ensuring that future young sportsmen will look very very carefully at Alex Keath’s history … and will not pick cricket.

          • July 11th 2017 @ 3:57pm
            Nathan said | July 11th 2017 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

            Rock are you aware CA offered male domestic players a 17% pay rise?

            Then CA revised its offer to include them in the surplus share and to increase the 17% pay rise to something higher to be agreed?

            Agree paying them well is critical, so why not try to negotiate CA up on its offered pay rise?

        • July 11th 2017 @ 12:38pm
          jamesb said | July 11th 2017 @ 12:38pm | ! Report

          “The facts are the worst Australian team in 25 years is holding the game to ransom – why? ”

          That’s quite an interesting take on this subject matter. In the article, you did state “The fact is that the health of the game in this country is the responsibility of Cricket Australia and the board”

          Ok, so in your opinion, this is the “worst Australian team in 25 years”. Who is responsible for that, the players or Cricket Australia?

        • July 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm
          davros said | July 11th 2017 @ 1:41pm | ! Report

          you have a very limited understanding of the facts imho …and what is this guff about worst australian team ..who gets to decide that ? you ?

          The teams from the past 20 years didnt have to stand their ground to a bully boy anti union board that would not release all relevant information and bargain in good faith .

          i couldnt be bothered wasting anymore effort responding to corporate lickspittles …their has been reams and reaams written on this …the facts speak for themselves !

          • July 11th 2017 @ 2:09pm
            Dominic Marsh said | July 11th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            It’s all opinion Davros. Just because people have a different opinion to you does not make them uninformed.
            And the stats regarding this current team speak for themselves. Have you forgotten the horror run that these very players put us through last season, culminating in the debacle in Hobart v South Africa.
            Yep, let’s pay them more.
            Thanks Davros.

    • July 11th 2017 @ 9:40am
      AGordon said | July 11th 2017 @ 9:40am | ! Report

      good morning Mr “passionate cricket fan”, I was interested in your article till I got to the bit where you state CA are the ones “charged with success at all levels of cricket”. Well, I’ve got news for you – it ain’t happening. What exactly are they doing for the thousands of junior sides across the country? What are their long term plans to ensure we have viable cricket at all levels and pathways to ensure all who want to lay the game, can do so? I’ve gone looking and can’t see anything, anywhere, so if your premise is correct, they’re not doing their job too well.

      You also mention the health of the game being CAs responsibility. Assuming you’re right, surely they also have a responsibility to listen to players, administrators across all levels of the game, etc. Once again, the arrogance of CA means this isn’t happening, leaving players fuming and completely distrustful of the Board. If CA is genuinely trying to mend the health of Australian cricket, why has it taken till now for the CEO to become involved in the pay negotiations? Why is the Board CEO clearly out to destroy a system that has worked effectively for more than 20 years?

      You need to take off your blinkers Dominic and see what the real situation is all about. The Players are the ones who have the best interests of the game at heart. Your right, the Board SHOULD be doing all the things you mention, but at present, it’s the players who are tying to pick up the pieces through CA incompetence

      • July 11th 2017 @ 4:19pm
        Nathan said | July 11th 2017 @ 4:19pm | ! Report

        AGordon I don’t think anyone is saying CA is spotless. But if CA is not doing what it should, then it needs to pull its socks up. You’re quite right. But it is not the players’ or ACA’s job to fix any shortcomings in CA. I agree CA should consult heavily with the ACA where appropriate. But the ACA is a union and lobbyist, not a pseudo 2nd board.

        In any case, the solution is not to maintain a model that is unsustainable. Elsewhere I have explained why it cripples investment in growth – which alone means revenue sharing must go. Few businesses operate successfully on the same basis as they did 20 years ago. Things change in 20 mins these days. Cricket needs the best current model, which is not necessarily the status quo.

        In the last 2 or 3 mou negotiations the CA CEO has come in late (without ACA complaint), so that’s not unprecedented.

        Pay all players well. CA lift (perhaps a lot!). ACA remain within its proper realm. Get a new model and fund cricket at all levels so kids, volunteers, fans and elite players are all properly catered for.

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