CSA, SACA headed for possible showdown over player contracts

Cricket South Africa (CSA) and its players are set for a showdown in the coming months as discussions over their MOU, which expires at the end of April, begin. The agreement is renegotiated every four years and has included a revenue-sharing model for the last 12 years, but CSA wants to relook at player contracts and could alter them radically.

“We need to change how we contract our players. The game of cricket has evolved, the economy has evolved, but our way of doing things hasn’t really changed. That’s something I have realised isn’t really working for Cricket South Africa,” Thabang Moroe, CSA’s acting CEO said. “One of the ways we are looking to contract our Proteas is maybe by awarding Test contracts like the ECB does, and allow everybody else to be paid on pay-per-play. Ultimately all white-ball cricketers make their money playing in these (T20) leagues outside of their local programmes. By contracting Test players you have the opportunity to look after your premium players, players you would like to keep for long in the game.”

When asked whether the revenue-sharing model would be re-examined, Moroe hinted that CSA’s board could consider it. “That is for the board and its members to debate. I just have a view on how a company should be run from the management point of view and how a company needs to engage with a trade union. Obviously I will be presenting my views to the board and the board will make its decision. If the board feels that’s the way they want to go, so be it. Ultimately the people that make money for cricket is Cricket South Africa, it’s not a union.”

The trade union Moroe referred to is the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA), which is yet to be informed about any possible changes to player contracts. SACA will act on the players’ behalf during the MOU discussions and though it always expect tough talks, this time it is worried about the direction CSA may be taking. “We have these negotiations every four years and it is always a hard negotiation because it is very detailed. But the noises we are hearing from CSA are concerning and goes against the spirit of how things have worked in the past,” Tony Irish, SACA CEO told ESPNcricinfo. “I would be astounded if CSA takes a confrontational approach to the talks. They should look at what happened in Australia.”

Earlier this year, Cricket Australia and its players were involved in a lengthy stand-off over player contracts precisely because CA was going to scrap the revenue-share model. There were talks of a player strike and an Australia A tour to South Africa was cancelled. While Irish is asking CSA to keep the Australian situation, which was ultimately resolved when a compromise was reached that included sharing of revenue, in mind, Moroe was fairly bullish about the organisation’s stance.

“We would be (wary of what happened in Australia) but ultimately CSA needs to run cricket and the trade union needs to protect their players’ rights,” Moroe said “If CSA is trampling on peoples’ rights, the union must step in. If CSA decides to take a different direction in growing cricket, there is no room for a union there because we are not trampling on peoples’ rights, we are protecting the sport that we have been put in charge to administer.”

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