South African Cricketers Association chief executive, Tony Irish. Photo: INLSA
CAPE TOWN 
 Cape Cobras CEO Nabeal Dien will not allow his players to be “out of pocket” despite the threat that South Africa’s 230 professional and semi-professional cricketers could be unemployed by the end of the month.

Cricket SA (CSA) and the SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) are yet to finalise the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), which includes the contracting of national and franchise players and specifically the image rights of players for marketing material.

Although CSA have indicated in a statement this week their "willingness to extend the existing contracts for a further period with the intention of having the new agreement in place by July this year in the event of negotiations concerning the new MOU not being completed by April 30”, Saca responded through their CEO Tony Irish that “we do not understand why such a long further delay may be necessary”.

Irish commented further that the urgency for reaching a consensus was because there needs to be “a greater degree of certainty and security for players going forward. Our players deserve that”.

The current situation is certainly not conducive for a healthy player working environment, especially after the Global T20 League was also postponed last year.

Although CSA were compelled to compensate the players close to R65-million due to existing GLT20 contracts, Saca still believe the uncertainty “comes at a time when South African cricket needs to do whatever it can to retain its players in the face of competing opportunities afforded to players in the emerging T20 leagues market and also in the UK”.

With this in mind, Dien, who was on the MOU task force set by up CSA, has worked on an “interim agreement” with the Cobras players.

“The MOU has not been finalised as yet, but we are going ahead with an interim agreement with our players.

“At this point, we have offered players a contract and close to six or seven have already signed,” Dien told Independent Media.

“Along with Ashwell (Prince, Cape Cobras coach), we are working through a process of getting the rest of the team to sign. Primarily we have the same squad as last year, with just a couple of new additions. We are working on something to get them signed up too.”

South Africa’s six franchise teams traditionally receive a “player pool” grant from CSA to contract their squads. Although this money has not yet been received, Dien is confident a consensus surrounding the MOU will be reached soon.

“We are working on a six per cent increase and offering contracts based upon that. We have informed Saca of our workings and they have indicated that we can go ahead,” he explained.

“If there are slight adjustments to be made once everything is sorted, we will do so, but we cannot allow our players to be out of pocket.”

Player Associations and cricket governing bodies across the world have been at loggerheads recently, with the most high-profile dispute happening in Australia last year.

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) and Cricket Australia (CA) were in negotiations for 10 months over their new MOU, with neither party having budged by the time the deadline arose for the new agreement to be in place.

The situation had dire consequences when the Australia A team, which included internationals like Usman Khawaja, Travis Head and Glenn Maxwell, withdrew from their tour to South Africa last July.

Although there were reports that Australia’s federal sports minister Greg Hunt was prepared to intervene should the two parties not move beyond their standoff, an agreement was finally reached when CA relented and kept in place the existing revenue-sharing MOU model.


Weekend Argus

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