Daryl Mitchell, the chairman of the Professional Cricketers’ Association, has warned that a rise in the salary cap is a “non-negotiable” part of any deal with the ECB.
Mitchell, the players’ union boss, is one of the team negotiating a new deal for players for the period from 2020 to 2024, as part of both the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP; which effectively decides the value of central contracts for international players) and the County Partnership Agreement (CPA; which decides how much money each county should receive and guidelines over how it should be spent). The PCA are also negotiating the women’s pay deal, both domestically and internationally.
And, with the new broadcast deal injecting more money into the game than ever before, Mitchell expects a “fair share” of that revenue to find its way to the players.
So he admits he was “very surprised” to read reports that the ECB had told county chief executives that there would be no rise in the salary cap as part of the CPA.
“The salary cap has to rise,” Mitchell told ESPNcricinfo. “That is non-negotiable.
“You can’t have a situation where a huge amount more money comes into the game and the players do not benefit from it. We have made that very clear to the ECB and we are going to be very strong on this issue. It really is non-negotiable.”
The salary cap – currently set at around GBP2million a year – dictates the total amount that counties can pay their players. While it is not relevant to a majority of counties – some spend less than half that amount and it is understood that only one, Surrey, argued for a rise at the chief executives’ meeting – there is an expectation that salaries will rise as more money comes into the game. The ECB has already promised the counties an extra GBP1.3million a year each from 2020.
The PCA are also insisting upon a rise in the salary collar (the minimum amount paid by a county in salaries to players; the current figure is GBP750,000 a year), a rise in the minimum wage – and the means to force counties to stick to it – and assurances that all current players will benefit in a tangible way from the new broadcast deal. At present the PCA recommend a minimum wage (it starts at GBP17,897 for 18-year-olds and rises to GBP25,354 for 24-year-olds) but found widespread abuse of the system as part of a recent survey.
“Those are the four principles,” Mitchell confirmed. “The salary collar figure is very low at present and must rise. Some counties are only just above it. And we’ll also be looking for the CPA to have some teeth to compel counties to ensure they respect the minimum wages requirements.
“We also want to make sure that all our members – and we have 420 current players to consider – benefit from the new broadcast deal. Not just the England players; not just those involved in The 100 and not just those on minimum wage: all our members in the middle of those groups.
“In any negotiation process, you have some wins and you make some concessions. But these four principles are very simple and we won’t be budging from our stance on them.”
News of the ECB’s comments at the chief executives’ meeting come at an awkward time in their relationship with the PCA. A few weeks ago, the ECB chairman, Colin Graves, appeared to contradict his chief executive, Tom Harrison, in insisting plans for the new 100-ball tournament were “set in stone.” A few days earlier, Harrison had told the PCA the competition was only at the conceptual stage.
And, while there has been much talk of late of the ECB’s need to tighten the purse strings, their recently-published accounts show that on top of the salaries of top executives (and the highest paid executive at the ECB earns GBP605,000 a year before pension contributions), an incentive plan has been set up that will see up to GBP3.2million extra paid to those executives by the end of 2022.
“Our relationship with the ECB is still good,” Mitchell said, “but there are times I think their communication could be better. All the conversations we’ve had with them should have left them in no doubt over our views and at no stage have they led us to believe that there will be no more money. We’re still confident this can be resolved amicably.”