MELBOURNE,(Reuters) – Cricket Australia has proposed taking their pay dispute with the nation’s elite players to arbitration if there is no resolution by early next week, chief executive James Sutherland said on Thursday.
Australia’s top players have effectively been unemployed since the previous five-year pay deal expired on June 30, forcing the cancellation of the ‘A’ tour of South Africa as the acrimonious negotiations continued.
Sutherland said the impasse threatened next month’s tour of Bangladesh, the one-day series in India that follows and even the home Ashes series at the end of the year and it was “time to get the show back on the road”.
“We see the increasing need for urgency to get this matter resolved,” he told reporters in Melbourne.
“We’re proposing in the short-term that both parties get together with really strong intent to get this deal sorted by early next week. In the event that it’s not resolved, we’re proposing any residual matters be sent to arbitration.
“We’re prepared to accept whatever decision comes. In cricketing parlance, we will accept the umpire’s decision and move on.”
Sutherland, who suggested the union had been guilty of delaying tactics, said if the dispute went to arbitration, players could immediately be contracted on a short-term basis to allow them to tour Bangladesh.
The test squad for that tour, which has not yet been announced, is scheduled to gather in Darwin for a training camp in the second week of August.
The scathing response of the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) later on Thursday illustrated that Sutherland’s comments had done little to ameliorate the acrimony of the nine-month dispute.
“Cricket Australia has lost the players and most of the game’s stakeholders in the (dispute),” the union said in a statement.
“And now, after pushing the players into unemployment, an extended period of a lack of financial transparency, after three months of rejecting mediation and only after the recent arrival of the CA CEO into talks, CA discovers the need for urgency.”
Australia vice-captain David Warner blamed the board for the impasse.
“This Baggy (Green) means the world to me. Myself and all the other cricketers – female and male – want to get out there and play,” the left-handed opener said on his Instagram account.
“We offered $30 million of our money to grassroots as a peace plan. It was ignored. We asked for mediation twice before and it was rejected. Now CA says there is a crisis.
“The players are unemployed and some are hurting financially but continue to train. Administrators all still being paid. How is it our fault no deal is done.”
Despite preferring mediation to the “adversarial process” of arbitration, the ACA said it would nevertheless study the proposal and “continue to work intensively” on the negotiations. At the heart of the dispute is CA’s insistence that the two-decade-old model under which players get a fixed percentage of revenue should be jettisoned.
CA believe the revenue-share model is unfit for modern times and is starving grass-roots cricket of funding, while the players say it has underpinned the game’s growth and prosperity.