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Cricket Australia prepared for arbitration to end pay dispute

Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has today (Thursday) opened up to the prospect of independent arbitration in order to lift the body’s pay dispute with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), adding that the prospect of short-term contracts could also be on the cards.

Sutherland (pictured) today provided an update to the situation after Australian cricket effectively entered lockout mode on July 1 as the deadline expired for an agreement on a new pay deal. The situation has left as many as 230 players effectively unemployed, with the ACA already electing to boycott the Australia A tour of South Africa which was due to start with a four-day match on July 12.

The next series that comes under threat is Australia’s two-Test tour to Bangladesh in August, while the Australian cricket summer is highlighted by the Ashes series against England later this year. CA has today outlined a new plan of action to the ACA, including that the two parties engage in an “intensive” period of negotiation over the next few days in a final effort to reach sufficient agreement on the fundamental issues that would allow a heads of agreement to be executed by early next week.

If that proves unachievable, CA has proposed that the parties agree to take the outstanding issues to arbitration. CA said it would accept any outcome determined by that process in order to get the game back on track and the players back under contract.

Under this proposal, players would be re-contracted at the commencement of arbitration and remain contracted until the final Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) can be signed.

“There is no doubt there is a bit of an impasse here,” Sutherland said, according to the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper. “But I believe that with positive intent and the right people in the room we can get this sorted in the next few days. Failing that, we're prepared to say that we put the issues to arbitration. We accept the umpire's decision and the game goes on.”

In the event of an arbitration process, Sutherland said players could be signed to short-term contracts as soon as this begins.

The long-running dispute has seen CA criticise the players for not negotiating, while the ACA has said the governing body has rejected requests to enter mediation. The dispute centres on opposing views on a fixed revenue percentage model for a new five-year MoU. CA is seeking to break this up, while the union is looking to retain it.