Staff forced to take huge pay cut to save Cricket Australia: Roberts

Cricket Australia chief Kevin Roberts has told staff the organisation would have run out of cash in four months if drastic action was not taken, painting a grim picture of the governing body’s finances.

Cricket figures are asking questions as to where the money has gone at Jolimont as it emerged CA stands to lose tens of millions of dollars due to the stock market tanking amid the coronavirus pandemic.

‘‘As things stand, we’re going to run out of cash by the end of August,’’ Roberts is said to have told staff this week.Credit:Getty Images

CA’s cash assets dropped to just $26.6 million last June, according to its 2018/19 financial report, down some $175m in just three years. A similar fall this financial year would leave it in strife.

An already dire situation threatens to worsen if world powerhouse India are not allowed into the country to play next summer in a series worth $300m to the game. CA would also miss out on a significant fee from the International Cricket Council if the Twenty20 World Cup does not go ahead. The 2015 World Cup was worth some $100m to the game.

There is also angst among CA staff, who learned on Friday if they would be stood down with their pay reduced by almost 80 per cent. Some are questioning why executives are only taking a cut of 20 per cent though many are working extended hours to steer the game through the crisis.

The states and staff were blindsided by the extent of the stand down. Staff were particularly shocked having been told only weeks earlier by Roberts that he was confident cricket could absorb the economic impact of the pandemic. As recently as Tuesday, staff had been told a message by Roberts of putting people first with no indication tough decisions were imminent.

According to multiple sources spoken to by the Herald and Age, Roberts told staff CA would not be able to pay salaries in August without standing down a vast majority of workers. ‘‘As things stand, we’re going to run out of cash by the end of August,’’ Roberts is said to have told staff this week.

CA’s assets have plummeted close to $60m a year since 2016 when it was as high as nearly $199m. As revealed by this publication earlier this month, CA is seeking a $200m line of credit from banks to counter a scenario where it could lose 50 per cent of revenue next season.

CA say they are at the low point of the four-year economic cycle it uses to reflect the fluctuations in revenues based on the cricket calendar. Marquee summers in which powerhouses India and England visit help bankroll the game for seasons where smaller nations such as New Zealand and Pakistan and Sri Lanka tour, as happened in 2019/20. The current cycle, however, includes the Ashes and India, who toured in consecutive summers starting 2017/18.

Sources said senior players were contacted by Roberts and told CA had lost some $40m in shares, almost half the $90m listed under investments in last year’s financial report. CA, however, claim the loss is significantly lower, amounting to less than $5m.

The financial carnage comes despite cricket having played through almost the entire international schedule before sport was effectively shut down. In a typical year, CA collects 90 per cent of its revenue during the season.

As one high ranking state official said: "Cricket dodged a bullet but the bullet coming might still be live."

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