A stare-down meeting between key New Zealand cricket staff and the heads of the six major associations has fuelled suggestions the game faces a financial crisis.

The CEOs of the associations – Northern and Central Districts, Auckland, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago – met NZC chief David White, chairman Greg Barclay and board member Martin Snedden this month.

The meeting turned combative, according to a major association source, when NZC could not tell the associations how much money they had to spend for the coming season.

"When you're getting close to June and you don't know what you've got for next summer, it's an indication something is wrong," the source said.

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It has fuelled rumours that a series of lower-than-forecast dividends to NZC from the International Cricket Committee (ICC) has put the sport's finances in a parlous position.

Not so, says Barclay, who described the mood of the meeting with the associations as "robust as usual".

Bubbling away behind the numbers is the One Cricket project overseen by former CEO Snedden, which aims to overhaul and modernise the way cricket is delivered at domestic level, including community cricket.

In terms of NZC's finances, Barclay said there were no cashflow problems nor were there imminent threats to the organisation's fiscal wellbeing.

According to the audited accounts, NZC suffered a net loss of $3.5 million in the last financial year (not including a non-transactional foreign exchange hit), and $9.3m the previous year.

Ross Taylor and Black Caps manager Mike Sandle give an insight into some of the logistical challenges of travelling to a world cup
New Zealand Cricket Chairman Greg Barclay has described the meeting with association bosses as
New Zealand Cricket Chairman Greg Barclay has described the meeting with association bosses as "robust as usual". Photo / Photosport

This year, the projected small surplus has been re-forecast down to a small loss, likely in the region of $2m.

The organisation's equity, which stood at more than $30m following a successful co-hosting of the last ICC World Cup, has taken a significant hit.

"We're still at about $17m, so we're not exactly insolvent," said Barclay.

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NZC accrues revenue from two major sources: broadcasting partnerships both domestically (Sky) and internationally (Star India), and ICC dividends from its major events.

The ICC is in the midst of its 2016-2023 cycle and the US$128m dividend NZC will receive in that period is backloaded, Barclay said.

"If taken in a straight line, NZC would receive $16m per year but all the dividends have been below that so far," he said.

"Years six, seven, eight of this cycle we're going to see a big windfall. The equity we're eating away at gets replaced and we'll see upside to that as well.

"We have no solvency issues. We're in good shape."

The "disconnect" with the associations revolves around what slice of the revenue pie they will receive, and how they'll be expected to spend it.

NZC reached a master agreement with the Players' Association last year, which determined what percentage of their revenue went into the player payment pool. Last year, without an agreement of their own, the major associations took what was left.

Spectators and broadcasters have shown a diminished appetite for domestic four-day cricket. Photo / Photosport
Spectators and broadcasters have shown a diminished appetite for domestic four-day cricket. Photo / Photosport

This year, with an agreement still not in place, the major associations, according to one source, feel like they are owed assurances over funding and are not receiving them, making planning for the upcoming season impossible.

"Where the angst is that $23m is poured into domestic cricket [including grassroots] and I don't think that money is being invested into the game as wisely as it could be," Barclay said. "We're still delivering cricket the same way we did five, 10, 15 years ago.

"We need to deliver it better."

Barclay said Snedden's work had identified an urgent need to service the women's game and community cricket much more effectively, and to take advantage of the country's rapidly changing demographics – that is to say, south Asian migration – in a way other sports cannot.

The not-so-subtle subtext is that too much money is invested in competitions like four-day cricket and, at a minor association and club level, two-day cricket, which the market – in this case broadcasters and spectators - has clearly said it doesn't want.

Barclay said these discussions had been taking place for years but there was an added urgency to it now.

"It is evolution coming, not revolution," he said.