Melbourne, Australia, Jul 27 – Cricket Australia said Thursday it will take its bitter pay dispute with players to independent arbitration if agreement cannot be reached by early next week, with a tour to Bangladesh looming.
Chief executive James Sutherland said unless intensive negotiations over the next few days produce a compromise, his organisation will seek the intervention of an industrial umpire — likely to be a retired judge — to resolve the impasse.
The first match on the Test tour of Bangladesh is due to start on August 22, followed by a one-day tour to India in September and October ahead of the showpiece home Ashes series, beginning in November.
“We are at the stage now where we need to address this situation and cricket needs to get on with the game,” Sutherland told reporters in Melbourne.
“We need players employed, contracted, focused not only on upcoming tours, but indeed an exciting season of cricket ahead.
“We feel what the ACA (Australian Cricketers’ Association) has proposed actually jeopardises not only the Bangladesh tour, but in turn the India one-day tour and even beyond that, dare I say it, the Ashes.”
The ACA responded late Thursday saying it will be working to resolve its dispute with CA.
“Arbitration is an adversarial process more akin to a court room,” the ACA said in a statement.
“A further concern is the time it would take for an arbiter to meaningfully understand the complexities of revenue sharing in elite professional sport and then to make judgement.
“This compromises the needs for urgency. That said, in the spirit of doing all we can to resolve the dispute, the ACA will continue to work intensively in the CEO to CEO negotiations which are currently taking place with a view to achieving resolution.”
After months of negotiations, the players and CA have failed to reach agreement on a new pay deal, leaving 230 cricketers unemployed since the end of June when their contracts expired.
In an escalation of the protracted dispute, the players, through the ACA, decided to boycott this month’s Australia A tour of South Africa and are reportedly ready to do the same for Bangladesh.
– Get this sorted –
Sutherland said CA was proposing an alternative route through the negotiation stalemate and has told the ACA about their planned next course of action.
“We are proposing that both parties get together in the short term with a really strong intent to get this deal sorted and hopefully by early next week we can have this situation resolved,” he said.
“In the event that it is not resolved at that time, we are proposing that any residual matters that haven’t been resolved are sent to arbitration.”
He added that CA was prepared to accept “whatever decision comes” from that process.
While arbitration is on the table, the CA chief said he hoped the warring factions could reach peace before it came to that.
“There is no doubt there is a bit of an impasse here,” he said.
“But I believe that with positive intent and the right people in the room we can get this sorted in the next few days.”
The escalation of the pay wrangle, which has cast uncertainty over the showpiece Ashes series later this year, comes after the ACA rejected the latest offer from the game’s administration.
The ACA remains adamant that players must receive a percentage of the game’s gross revenues, while CA is insistent that the continuation of this model would come at an unreasonable cost to other, more pressing issues in the game.