Cricket in crisis after $450m ‘trainwreck’
In a bombshell report, Channel 7 is threatening to terminate its $450 million contract with Cricket Australia.
On Friday, The Daily Telegraph's Ben Horne revealed Channel 7 chief executive James Warburton had delivered a scathing assessment of Cricket Australia's management, calling it a "trainwreck" and the "most incompetent" administration he has ever worked with.
Warburton suggested CA had made an error in sacking former chief executive Kevin Roberts, and also warned Channel 7's multimillion-dollar deal could be terminated with four years remaining on the contract.
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"This is not an acceptable product, and we will not support the season. Cricket Australia have an obligation to deliver a competition of no lesser standard than the past."
The coronavirus epidemic has heavily impacted the upcoming summer of cricket, with two bilateral one-day series cancelled and a T20 Cricket World Cup postponed.
Due to travel restrictions and a packed international calendar, the quality of cricketers on display in the Big Bash League will also be considerably poorer. However, CA is reportedly refusing to give broadcast partners a discount.
Seven currently pays approximately $82 million a year to CA for the broadcast rights as part of its six-year deal.
"What a bumbling, stumbling administration," Warburton said.
"'Don't worry,' they say. 'We will deliver a full BBL season. We've got good news. We can one hundred per cent tell you who can't play because we know they are in a hub we've created for our international white ball games. The only problem is we actually have no idea who will play the BBL.'
"How stupid to schedule international cricket against the BBL and drain the resources of a competition already under pressure. It's a joke, and it rips off the fans.
"We paid a huge price and were promised the world. There is an obligation to deliver the best quality to the broadcasters.
"It's the most incompetent administration I've ever worked with, with no appointed full time chief executive officer at a time when the sport needs strong leadership to steer through these extraordinary times.
"Kevin Roberts recognised these challenges and had started to engage with his broadcast partners to ensure fans would see the best cricket had to offer in 2020/21. The Cricket Australia hierarchy sacked him."
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Sports broadcaster Shane McInnes tweeted: "Losing the free to air partner would be an absolute disaster for CA.
"How can Cricket Aus not think the value of its product has diminished as a result of COVID, when both the AFL and NRL have reworked deals with their respective partners."
Cricket Australia's interim chief executive Nick Hockley was adamant the 2020/21 summer would not disappoint fans.
"Creating hubs and concentrating content as the other sporting codes have done throughout the winter is something we're likely to have to do in the early stages of the season," Hockley said earlier in the week.
"We are hoping the situation improves, I think clearly it's going to be a busy and full summer, both the international playing group and the domestic group and WBBL.
"But we're working through the schedules as we said at the moment and there's going to be lots of great cricket."
The Australian men's team is scheduled to face Afghanistan in a historic Test match at the WACA, before a highly-anticipated four-Test series against powerhouse nation India.
Originally published as Cricket in crisis after $450m 'trainwreck'