SYDNEY (Reuters) - Cricket Australia and the player’s union have both hailed a new deal signed by the country’s professional Australian Rules footballers as backing their cases in a bitter pay dispute.
Australia’s top cricketers face being locked out unless a new memorandum of understanding is struck between Cricket Australia and the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) before the end of the month.
On Tuesday, the Australian Rules players agreed a A$1.84 billion ($1.39 billion) six-year deal with the Australian Football League (AFL) that tied their wages to competition revenue for the first time.
At the heart of the cricket dispute is a long-standing agreement that gives the players a fixed percentage of the revenue of the game, a deal which Cricket Australia says prevents them from sufficiently investing in the grassroots.
The ACA were first to weigh in on the AFL agreement, with chief executive Alistair Nicholson congratulating the indigenous football code for “embracing the virtues of partnership” in the deal.
“What these two parties are trying to achieve is what cricket has enjoyed for 20 years,” he said in a statement.
“The AFL is at a different stage of evolving the partnership than cricket. But what’s clear is that this sense of co-operation is the way to go.”
Cricket Australia hit back on Wednesday by also welcoming the AFL deal which, it said, was “more closely aligned with the proposal that Cricket Australia has offered our elite players”.
“Both the AFL deal and the proposal that CA has put to the nation’s cricketers feature guaranteed payments,” said a spokesman.“Above the guaranteed payments, players share in additional revenue after expenses are taken into account. This is more akin to a profit share.”
There is no sign of an immediate resolution to the dispute.
Australia vice captain David Warner told Channel Nine at the weekend that the players might compromise on the percentage of revenue they received but would not agree a deal that did not include it at all.
“We’ve been offered contracts and we’ve knocked them back. That’s because we want to make sure the female players and domestic players are in this revenue share model,” he said.
“In the decades that have gone past, the past players that have been in our situation have stood up for us. I was a domestic player, I was a young kid coming through, we’re doing the same as what they did as well.”
The upcoming Australia A tour of South Africa, a two-test series in Bangladesh and a limited-overs tour of India are under threat from the dispute, with the Ashes also looming at the end of the year.
($1 = 1.3215 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford