Black Caps, cricket bosses could clash

By Dylan Cleaver

New Zealand Cricket is due to renegotiate their collective agreement with the players' association. File photo / 123RF
New Zealand Cricket is due to renegotiate their collective agreement with the players' association. File photo / 123RF

Rapidly increasing athlete unrest in Australia could spill across the ditch, with New Zealand Cricket due to renegotiate their collective agreement with the players' association.

The Herald understands that the New Zealand Cricket Players Association and the country's cricket bosses will meet "within a month or two" to discuss the way revenue is shared between the governing body and the players, in the hope of a new agreement to replace the existing one that expires next year.

However, signals from Australia suggests it could be a drawn out and fraught process, with revenue-sharing an inevitable sticking point.

New Zealand Rugby last year thrashed out a deal with the Players' Association, which saw a $70 million increase in the player payment pool and revenue sharing locked in at around 36 per cent.

Cricket's situation has been more complicated of late, with the percentage of revenue shared tied to forecast profits but if Australia is any indication then this will be a deal breaker.

Cricket Australia and the players are working on a new five-year collective but the rhetoric has turned ugly. The stoush is centred on CA's bid to drop the revenue-sharing model - tantamount to treason in the players' minds.

Paul Marsh, the former Australian Cricketers' Association chief who now heads the AFL Players' Association, recently described CA's move to scrap the 20-year-old pay structure as "pure greed".

There is talk of industrial action, and even if few think the players will actually strike, even loose talk of it tends to put the frighteners up sponsors and broadcasters. Only last month, a release from ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson indicated that the warring sides were some way apart.

"With a lack of detail in the terms and conditions that underpin this proposal, the ACA will continue to seek clarification from CA and advise the players on this accordingly."

AFL Players' Association CEO Paul Marsh. Photo / AAP
AFL Players' Association CEO Paul Marsh. Photo / AAP

New Zealand had a taste of dissatisfaction last year, when Olympic champions including Mahe Drysdale and Jo Aleh spoke out about their "second-class status", but in Australia the antipathy between athletes and administrators is set to boil. A long-running pay dispute between the AFL players and their bosses remains unresolved. The players are reportedly set to receive a pay boost of up to 25 per cent, but the deal has been stalled by the AFL Players' Association, which wants an improved share of revenue. While revenue sharing is a flashpoint it is not the only deal-breaker. RUPA, the union that negotiates on behalf of Australia's rugby players, has its energies focused on trying to prevent the culling of one of its five franchises.

The netball situation is the most flammable at present and is complicated by the fact Australia wasn't as ready to cut the financial apron strings the now-defunct ANZ Championship provided them as they first thought. Netball Australia's new competition has some shortcomings, which its member states were unhappy about. They reacted by overthrowing the board chair last month and last week independent director Kath Harby-Williams was voted out, both replaced by candidates acceptable to the states. The Players' Association believed that if the states got their way, then their new pay provisions were under threat. They threatened to strike and even to form a rebel league unless Harby-Williams was re-elected to the board. This was their non-negotiable position ... until it wasn't. Harby-Williams wasn't re-elected.

It's unlikely New Zealand's cricketers would vote to strike again. They were soundly beaten in the PR battle when they went down this route in 2002 although they arguably ended up winning the war.

If Australia is sending us a message, it is that those who administer the entertainment are increasingly out of step with those who provide it.

- NZ Herald

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