CAPE TOWN – South African Cricketers’ Association (Saca) chief executive Tony Irish has warned Cricket SA “to do whatever it can” to conclude the new memorandum of understanding ahead of the looming April 30 deadline.
Saca, the players’ union that represents South Africa’s 230 professional cricketers, are particularly perturbed with the lack of movement from CSA because of the current market forces that are seeing a growing number of professional cricketers turn down contracts with their national or domestic franchises in favour of becoming “freelance cricketers” in order to play in the lucrative T20 leagues around the world.
“We have reached a point where many of our players could be out of contract in less than two weeks. The effect of this runs from senior players who play for the Proteas to young players seeking to make their way in franchise cricket,” Irish said.
“The delays have created an environment of uncertainty for players, and for franchises who wish to secure their players. This comes at a time when SA 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.
“A key recommendation of CSA’s national teams review report released last year was the implementation of an effective retention strategy.”
Saca are further incensed with CSA for releasing a statement on Wednesday saying that negotiations are underway between CSA and Saca over the proposed new MOU.
The current MOU, which regulates critical matters relating to professional cricketers, including the contracts of national and franchise players, expires on April 30, leaving little time to conclude the new deal, which could leave the 230 players unemployed.
“The suggestion that there have actually been negotiations conducted by Saca officials with CSA on the MOU to date is also not correct. Negotiations on the key elements have yet to start,” Irish said in a strongly-worded statement yesterday.
“Saca has been doing everything possible from its side for approximately three months to engage with CSA on the MOU and to deal with the key elements to enable player contracts to be finalised well in advance of 30th April 2018, being the date on which the majority of player contracts end.
“In past MOU’s, the key elements have always been agreed by the end of February at the latest to ensure a proper player contracting process can take place well in advance of expiry dates.
“Unfortunately, our attempts to date have been met with very little response from CSA and much of our correspondence has gone unanswered.”
CSA acting CEO Thabang Moroe told Independent Media earlier this week that “there are some changes (to the MOU) but the majority will remain the same” and CSA also outlined its plans to conclude a new MOU with Saca “as a matter of urgency” in a statement on Wednesday.
This has further incensed Saca and Irish.
“The suggested plans have caused consternation amongst players and they require a response from Saca. The indication of further possible delays and the unworkability of certain aspects of what is being suggested are particular matters of concern to us,” Irish said.
“We are both surprised and disappointed that CSA has seen fit to make a public statement announcing plans relating to the MOU without giving us any proper opportunity to respond to, or to deal with, these first”, he added.
“Although CSA now acknowledges in its media statement that concluding the MOU has become a matter of urgency, it goes on to suggest that a new agreement may only be finalised in July.
“We do not understand why such a long further delay may be necessary. We believe that the new MOU is likely to be substantially similar to the existing one in most respects.
“Whilst Saca does not have an issue with clarifying the relationship between it and CSA, we urge CSA to prioritise finalising the key elements of the MOU so that there is a greater degree of certainty and security for players going forward. Our players deserve that,” added Irish.