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Australia’s cricketers have been told it is “time to get the show back on the road” and end a long-running dispute that has left 230 players unemployed.
An ‘A’ tour of South Africa was cancelled amid the row between players and their governing body over the scrapping of a revenue-sharing model.
Cricket Australia’s chief executive said there was “increasing urgency” with an Ashes series this winter.
“If it is not resolved, we’re proposing arbitration,” James Sutherland said.
“We’re prepared to accept whatever decision comes. In cricketing parlance, we will accept the umpire’s decision and move on.”
Players’ body the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) responded by saying it would rather mediation to the “adversarial process” of arbitration, but that it would “continue to work intensively” on negotiations.
“Cricket Australia has lost the players and most of the game’s stakeholders in the [dispute],” read a union 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 Cricket Australia chief executive into talks, CA discovers the need for urgency.”
Why is this happening?
Cricket Australia, the sport’s governing body in the country, produces a memorandum of understanding with the players – represented by the ACA – every five years. The last agreement expired on 30 June.
In March, the governing body proposed salary increases for men and women, which removed a clause from players’ contracts guaranteeing them a percentage of the organisation’s revenue.
This was rejected by the ACA, which also turned down a further revised pay offer.
Australia’s captain Steve Smith said the players would not “give up” the revenue-sharing agreement.
After months of public disagreements, a deadline for the ACA to agree new pay and conditions passed without resolution.
What does arbitration mean?
Cricket Australia has rejected a ‘peace plan’ document produced by the ACA, with Sutherland saying the details within it are “detrimental to the grassroots game”.
Sutherland is proposing fresh talks with the players’ union but warns that if a deal cannot be struck by early next week then the dispute will be settled by an arbitrator.
That would be an independent person or body – Sutherland says it is likely to be a retired judge – who will hear from both parties before suggesting an outcome.
Australia are due to play their first match on the Test tour of Bangladesh on 22 August, followed by a one-day-international tour to India in September and October.
They are then scheduled to host England in the Ashes series, beginning in November.
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