ACA to control players' image rights

The ACA is set to take back control from the CA, which will be required to go through the players' body for approval for all media deals.

Australia captain Steve Smith   -  Getty Images

The Australian Cricketers Association (ACA) has unveiled plans to control players' image rights amid the ongoing pay dispute with Cricket Australia (CA).

In a bid to restrict the CA's advertising capabilities, the ACA will launch 'The Crickets' Brand' on July 1 with both parties at loggerheads over the distribution of revenue for a new pay deal.

A plan set out by CA in March proposed wage rises for male and female players but excluded an existing clause that entitles athletes to a share of its revenue.

Now, the ACA is set to take back control from the CA, which will be required to go through the players' body for approval for all media, advertising and promotional deals.

It comes as the current memorandum of understanding's – set to end on June 30 – revenue share model has approximately allocated zero per cent of the digital media revenue received by the CA for male cricketers, including Australia captain Steve Smith and David Warner.

"When players are threatened with unemployment and when they learn they receive zero per cent of the digital revenue they generate they are naturally concerned," ACA boss Alistair Nicholson said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The Cricketers' Brand has been established to better manage these concerns and those of all affected parties."

Nicholson added: "In the US, almost all of their major sports have set-up models to help sustain the players' income through a mechanism that also supports their association in delivering services and programs that also benefit their colleagues.

"With new broadcast rights and commercial partnerships in cricket we expect that the players will benefit from having a more streamlined level of involvement through the ACA's direct partnership with these entities.

"We will work closely with player agents, who will maintain their important role in relation to a player's personal sponsors and playing arrangements."

Tim Cruickshank – general manager of The Cricketers' Brand – said: "The Cricketers' Brand has been born of necessity but our analysis reveals it creates great opportunities for the players.

"Across all categories, whether in-game access by broadcasters, sponsors, licensed products, appearances or merchandising, the players have been pivotal to the growth in the revenue in Australian cricket; both on and off the field.

"This is about securing a fair share for the men and women who play the game by taking greater control of their own intellectual property. The ACA has identified that the players themselves deserve to help share in, and grow this further.

"It also means players can lend their IP to grass roots development at local and club level. This is important to the players who are disappointed that grassroots cricket currently only receiving 12 per cent of the revenue entering the game. This is clearly unsatisfactory.

"It should be an exciting period ahead in the game both at international and domestic level, in both men’s and women’s cricket. Big Bash, World Cup and bilateral series that will be watched by millions worldwide and the opportunity for the players to grow their personal brand alongside the brand of cricket is exciting for the players to be a part of.

"We will be working with both the players and their agents to help set up a commercial framework that best suits the future direction of revenue streams. What this means practically for broadcasters and sponsors is that they can seek to establish a more direct relationship with the players through The Cricketers' Brand which we hope will enhance those partnerships for further mutual benefit."

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