Melbourne, Jun 9: Australian cricketers' stand-off with their Board has taken a bitter twist with CA refusing to accept their proposal for a new five-year deal and its chief executive James Sutherland saying that he is "surprised and a little bit disappointed" by the demands.
Negotiations between Cricket Australia (CA) and the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) over a pay dispute continued with only three weeks until the current agreement expires on June 30.
Sutherland said he could not see his organisation bending on the terms of its new performance-based, sliding scale pay system despite the ACA claiming that the players will be unfairly short-changed.
"We have offered the Australian and state players a big pay rise. It's around about a USD 80 million pay increase over the next five years compared to the last five years," Sutherland was quoted as saying by the 'Sydney Morning Herald'.
"To us it seems like a very attractive offer, and to the players that we've spoken to and shown the numbers to they appear to think it's a very attractive offer as well. Hopefully, the ACA can find themselves in a position to come to terms with us," he said.
Asked if he was surprised by the ACA's resistance, Sutherland replied: "Surprised and a little bit disappointed", adding that CA and the ACA are "further apart than we would like to be".
Sutherland said the discussions with the ACA had been difficult.
"These things are difficult sometimes. It's not uncommon for these sort of complex negotiations to come down to some sort of 11th-hour negotiations. If we're not in the 11th hour we're coming into the 10th hour. It's time now for us to really get down to it. We're pretty confident in our position," he said.
The parties will return to the negotiating table next week.
Central to the dispute is what constitutes cricket's revenue. Players currently get 26 per cent of cricket revenue but the ACA argues that CA is costing them as much as USD 30 million over the five years by re-defining what comes under that umbrella.
It is understood CA wants to remove investment income and contra income from the revenue stream available to players, as well as effectively put a cut from digital media rights out of reach by changing from a gross to a net definition of that category.
"Cricket Australia is very aware of the players' position. We're not prepared to go backwards," ACA chief Paul Marsh said. "We haven't asked for anything in addition to what we've got in our current deal and I think it's a disappointing way for Cricket Australia to treat its No.1 asset, the players."