Cricket contracts killed again
July 16, 2012
Sri Lanka’s cricketers will not sign their central contracts or Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) contracts as Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) officials have gone back on their word and want the players to take further cutbacks on their pay, Sri Lanka Cricketers’ Association (SLCA) told “Daily Mirror”.

SLC Executive Committee which met last Thursday, refused the settlement reached by SLC officials with cricketers and demanded further pay cuts which the cricketers have simply rejected and have taken a final stance to decline the contracts.

“Cricket board has given a proposal to the players. Players are not too happy with it. They are not signing it,” said SLCA spokesman Ken de Alwis.

The contract deadlock which has been dragging on for more than four months will come to a head tomorrow when the players are expected to sign their contracts for the forthcoming Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL).

“SLC has to tell the players their final stance on the central contracts by Tuesday. If SLC agrees to the players’ terms, players will sign both SLPL and central contracts. If not, they will reject signing both. How can they sign SLPL contracts when they haven’t signed the central contracts which are more than four months old?” asked de Alwis.

The contracts have become an urgent matter as it is less than a month to go for the SLPL while the Indian ODI tour begins in less than a week. It is unclear if the players are willing to play the Indian tour on tour contracts as they did for the recent Pakistan tour. If not, the ticking bomb will explode soon.

As a result of SLC’s lethargic attitude towards the contracts issue, players have not been paid for the entire first quarter of the 2012 season from March 1 till today – a period of more than four months.

After several months of discussions, both parties had ironed out all sticking points but the only dispute now remains is over the Guarantee Fee paid to the players for ICC events.

SLC former interim committee headed by D.S. de Silva had agreed to pay the players 25 percent of the total gross income of all ICC events and that was how the players were paid under the last contract.

But the SLC’s negotiators Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and Treasurer Nuski Mohammed had successfully bargained with the Cricketers’ Association to reduce it to 25 percent of total Nett income and at the last discussions both parties had agreed it was a good solution. However SLC Ex Co had rejected this settlement and demanded a further cut of more than five percent of the nett income which means players Guarantee Fee would be less than twenty percent of the SLC’s nett income from ICC events. Players have firmly rejected that move, resulting in the present deadlock.

SLC received 14 million US Dollars Rs. (1.89 billion) from last year’s World Cup but from that, the International Cricket Council (ICC) deducted 6.4 million US Dollars (Rs. 864 million) for four years of ICC subscription fee which is US 1.6 million dollars (Rs. 216 million) per annum. Every Test country has to pay this subscription fee to keep their status. So, SLC was left with only 7.6 million US Dollars (Rs. 1.026 billion), but since the players’ Guarantee Fee was to be 25 per cent of the gross income which was 14 million, they had to pay the players US 3.6 million dollars (Rs. 486 million) . This left the cash-strapped institution with just four million US Dollars (Rs. 540 million) which was only slightly more than what the players got. Cricket board has given a proposal to the players. Players are not too happy with it. They are not signing it.

But had the agreement been to pay players from the nett income, players would have only got 25 percent of 7.6 million US dollars which comes to about 1.9 million US Dollars (Rs. 256.5 million) while SLC would have kept 5.7 million US Dollars (Rs. 769.5 million).

SLC obviously needed more money than the players as SLC had several big and costly tasks such as to run cricket affairs, handle development and nurture the future of cricket.

The two SLC officials Ranatunga and Mohammed told SLCA’s negotiators Sri Lanka captain Mahela Jayawardene and de Alwis that they cannot pay 25 percent from gross income and agreed to make it 25 percent of nett income.

SLC’s Chief Executive Officer Ajit Jayasekara, SLC’s Head of Cricket Operations Ashley de Silva and Chairman of National Selectors Asantha de Mel were also present as observers at this meeting which took place prior to last month’s Pakistan tour.

“At the discussion we agreed that 25 percent of gross income is too much and the alternative would be 25 percent nett. We felt that was ok. After that Mahela and I spoke to the cricketers and we managed to convince them. Players said that’s ok, as cricket board seems to be having a problem with money. I have to tell you, Mahela had a tremendous job at his hands to convince the players. But somehow we did it. We showed the players that it was too much. Players realized and they agreed,” revealed de Alwis.

But the progress hit a wall once again when SLC Ex Co decided they can only pay the players less than 20 percent of the nett income.

“But now the cricket board has gone back on that as well. This is where the problem is,” said de Alwis.

Amazingly Sri Lanka cricketers have not been given a single salary increment by SLC for the last four years. It was despite this that they had gracefully agreed to a reduction in their guarantee fee before SLC officials demanded a further cut.

“They are quite happy to go on for the fifth year without an increment. But their stance is 25 percent of nett and an increase in the salaries next year. If those are met, they are willing to sign it this year,” de Alwis said.

De Alwis revealed that players are paid 25 percent of the total revenue of the board in other Test countries.

“West Indies players get 26 percent. South Africa players get 27 percent. It is not from nett profit. It is from total revenue. Cricketers Associations get that amount and distributes it among all national and domestic players,” he described.

“Forty percent of that money goes to nationally contracted players. Compared with that, Sri Lanka cricketers get peanuts,” he said adding “But still they are willing to play. It is no fault of theirs that cricket board doesn’t have money”.

De Alwis said that Guarantee Fee should not be a big worry to SLC as ICC basically had only two main events – the world cup that happens only once in four years and the World T20 that happens every two years.

“Hopefully on Tuesday cricket board should look at it very positively,” he said.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka