SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: BUSINESS DAY
SA Cricketers' Association CEO Tony Irish. Picture: BUSINESS DAY

The SA Cricketers’ Association (Saca) will meet on Friday with the possibility of all the players going on strike high on the agenda. Saca represents all professional men and women cricketers in the country and a strike would have devastating consequences on the money-spinning incoming England tour later in December.

Relations between Saca and Cricket SA (CSA) have soured over the restructuring of the domestic game‚ a matter that is now sitting with the South Gauteng high court.

Saca CEO Tony Irish said the deteriorating relationship between the two parties has led to the need to discuss the possibility of a strike. “Saca has called a meeting of its players’ executive committee and its management board and at this meeting we will again be discussing the manner in which Saca and the players are being treated by CSA. This discussion is likely to include the possibility of the players taking some form of industrial or protest action.” 

Saca recently lodged a dispute with Cricket SA over unpaid commercial fees from 2018’s Mzansi Super League (MSL) and now they have sent the embattled organisation a letter to address a demand in relation to the unlawful use of player commercial rights in the ongoing MSL 2.0.

“Saca has always considered a strike and other similar forms of industrial action to be a very last resort‚” Irish said. “In Saca’s 17 years of dealing with CSA‚ to date not one day of cricket has ever been lost to industrial action. However‚ things have now reached a stage where we must ask what Saca and the players are expected to do when the leadership of CSA‚ both operationally and within its board‚ continues to ignore our legitimate concerns and refuses to acknowledge the players as key stakeholders in the game.”

Fantasy league

Saca is accusing CSA of “having used‚ and allowed the use of‚ the names and images of players in association with a fantasy league game related to the MSL without any rights to do so”.

Irish said it has informed CSA repeatedly that it is illegal to do so as it raises red flags from a betting perspective.

“Unfortunately, Saca has again had to commence a formal process against CSA in respect of yet another situation in which the commercial rights of players in the MSL have been ignored‚” Irish said.

“Saca has also, as a precaution‚ requested CSA to obtain clearance from its anticorruption unit to ensure that this use of players in a pay-to-play game does not in any way constitute an association of the players with gambling‚ or encouragement of betting practices‚ which are not permitted under CSA’s anticorruption code. As far as we know this request has been ignored by CSA.”

Irish said the union has had enough of being ignored by CSA.

“This is yet another instance‚ in a growing line of instances‚ where CSA has flagrantly disregarded our agreements and, over the past week or so‚ failed to address Saca’s resulting concerns‚” he said. “We now feel that enough is enough.”

CSA spokesperson Thami Mthembu confirmed that it has received the letter and will engage with Saca. “CSA has received a letter from Saca and CSA is studying the contents of the letter. We will engage Saca in relation to attempting to resolve this matter.” 

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