Should umpires be paid more than players?

In a recent CoA decision, reported by Sportstar on Thursday, the CoA approved a 100 per cent pay hike for domestic match referees, umpires, scorers and video analysts.

The BCCI's decision to double the domestic match officials' match-fees has stirred a debate over whether the umpires should be paid more than cricketers. (Representational Image)   -  Vivek Bendre

The Board of Control for Cricket in India's (BCCI's) decision to double the domestic match officials' match-fees has stirred a debate over whether the umpires should be paid more than cricketers.

In a recent Committee of Administrators (CoA) decision, reported by Sportstar on Thursday, the CoA approved a 100 per cent pay hike for domestic match referees, umpires, scorers and video analysts. It would result in top 20 domestic umpires earning ₹40,000 per match day for non-T20 games. Whereas, the BCCI recently revised the domestic cricketers' fees structure, awarding ₹35,000 per match for all domestic cricketers.

Niranjan Shah, former BCCI secretary, “welcomed” the revision of officials’ fees, due for six years, but questioned the pay-parity between players and umpires.

READ: BCCI approves pay hike for domestic match officials

“It is indeed shocking and surprising that recommended match fees of umpires would be higher than a domestic senior player, which has been ₹35000 per day. I fail to understand that how can match fee of umpires be more than players?” asked Shah.

Sportstar spoke to various domestic cricketers, coaches and umpires about the issue. While all of them appreciated the “correction” in the officials' fees, a senior domestic cricketer lamented the wrong signal the new chart would give.

“Any sport should treat an athlete as a nucleus and all other factors should revolve around it, so it gives a bad signal when umpires are paid more than players. Even if the top umpires are paid at par with the players, it's fine,” the veteran cricketer said, preferring anonymity.

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If a player features across formats and if his team makes it to the knock-outs of all three major tournaments, he stands to earn anywhere between ₹14 lakh to ₹19 lakh. Whereas, even an umpire from the pool of top 20 officials would find it difficult to make that sort of money only from officiating in domestic games. According to a veteran umpire, no umpire officiates more than “six to eight” First-Class games and as many days of limited overs cricket.

A seasoned domestic umpire lambasted Shah for his views. “I don't understand why should anyone draw comparisons between match fees of players and umpires. If a comparison has to be drawn, it has to be with umpires from other major cricket countries,” he said.

The umpire also underlined the fact that “only 20 of the 105 umpires” stand to gain ₹40,000 per match day, whereas other 85 will earn ₹30,000 per day. “And the umpires, unlike players, don't get a share of gross revenue.”

Interestingly, the cricketers are still unclear over whether they will actually get anything over and above the match-fees as gross revenue share.