States are seeking explanation from CA as to why they should agree to cuts in their grants. The mooted 45 per cent reduction would lead to significant job losses.
Players are also eagerly waiting to hear back from CA, weeks after asking in writing for more information on their cricket revenue projections and financial modelling scenarios, and wanting to be involved in contingency planning for next season.
Senior figures at the Australian Cricketers’ Association were on Tuesday night discussing their next move, but players will not be happy at effectively having to take a double financial hit for losses by management.
Player pay is already tied to overall revenue, which is expected to drop, as part of the deal signed in acrimonious circumstances in 2017.
As reported by the Herald, the ACA has proposed the idea of percentage-based deals, instead of a fixed salary, for the 2020-21 contracting period due to the uncertainty over whether India will tour next season.
Roberts has flagged further cuts, saying he had been in touch with the ACA.
“We respect the player payment model that is in place right now and we intend to continue respecting that,” Roberts said.
“Just as the ACA and the players do and everyone acknowledges that in the interim we also need some creative solutions, whatever that means.
“It doesn’t mean disrespecting the current model at all, it just means we need creative solutions like every other organisation in society to manage through this situation respectfully to all parties involved.”
Roberts described Australia’s on-field leaders as “high quality young Australians” and said they had acknowledged “everyone has a role to play” in helping cricket through.
Roberts, who has been in the job for just over 18 months, said he still had the support of the board despite disquiet among figures within the game over his performance.
There is widespread shock at CA’s financial plight after the organisation’s cash reserves plummeted from nearly $199 million in 2016 to $26.6 million last year.
CA was forecasting to have $40 million in cash and investments in September, but Roberts said $20 million had been shed from the game as a result of COVID-19, leaving them precariously placed if the series against India was not possible. Roberts said the cuts at head office were necessary.
“It wasn’t an overreaction because we’re dealing with a situation that’s hitting us at the low point of the cash cycle in four years,” Roberts said.
“We reach a point in early September, if there’s more shocks, as in the last month, our reserves are very thin and effectively would chart a path to zero if we weren’t to take drastic action.”
Roberts explained CA’s contentious investment situation, saying its initial $22 million share portfolio had delivered “excellent returns” of more than 50 per cent in four years. Their value had climbed to a high of $48 million before plummeting to $36 million last Friday after the market crashed.
If the India series was to go ahead, that would result in a $60 million boost, Roberts said, taking reserves up to $100 million. But disaster loomed if India could not tour.
There is dissatisfaction among employees, many of whom are down to 20 per cent pay for the remainder of the financial year with no guarantees they will be back on July 1.
Questions are being raised from within CA as to why the rank and file have been asked to take such a big pay cut while executives are giving up 20 per cent. CA’s directors and executive team took home $6.63 million in 2018-19, according to last year’s annual report.
“I hate the fact we had to move to that after all of the fantastic progress we’ve made as an organisation and our culture, and the outstanding people that we’re so grateful to work with, I hate doing that,” Roberts said.
“But it’s necessary as about $3 million of about $20 million that we’ve stripped out of our costs already and a whole lot more that we’re going to need to look at in the future. Unfortunately, it was an unavoidable piece of the puzzle.”
Andrew Wu writes on cricket and AFL for The Sydney Morning Herald