Cricket Australia reacts swiftly and resets operations for post-COVID environment
Cricket Australia (CA) has today detailed a program of operational changes that will deliver significant savings in response to the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation while ensuring the long-term sustainability and growth of the game.
Cricket Australia Chairman Earl Eddings said cricket had not been immune from the impacts of COVID-19 and this had required difficult decisions by Cricket Australia at the height of the crisis. He said cricket’s early response had helped the organisation weather the initial impacts of the pandemic and had allowed the organisation to adjust its financial outlook and update its plans for the 2020-21 financial year (FY21) in line with an increasingly optimistic national outlook.
“Throughout COVID-19, the need to work closely with the cricket community and to move quickly as circumstances have changed has never been more important,” Eddings said. “With increasing clarity about the impact of COVID-19, we have managed the financial impact on our organisation, our people, our partners and players. There will still be painful decisions for some parts of our organisation, but we have worked hard to carefully develop plans to protect our investment in community cricket and high-performance cricket, while ensuring the game’s financial sustainability.”
The amended FY21 plan presented to staff today identifies cost reductions of approximately $40 million a year to partly mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on revenue and other factors such as biosecurity costs and match attendances.
Regrettably, the plan includes a reduction of 40 roles. The positive impact of the Job Keeper program and an increasingly improved outlook for the season ahead have been recent factors considered in arriving at this final number.
Eddings said: “We recognise that this is a difficult time for Cricket Australia employees, particularly for those staff members affected by these redundancies and their families. However, our responsibility is clear: to navigate a path for cricket through this period of uncertainty and disruption to ensure we come out the other side sustainable in the short term and prosperous in the long term.”
Key components of the FY21 plan include:
• Protecting the long-term integrity of the game starting at the grassroots by retaining our commitment to Alinta Energy My Cricket, Woolworths Cricket Blast programs, junior cricket initiatives and continuing to invest in community facilities and technology platforms;
• Ensuring the elite men’s and women’s teams are appropriately and prudently resourced, including our commitment to support mental health and wellbeing;
• Continuing the Marsh Sheffield Shield, WNCL and Marsh One-Day Cup in their current formats for the FY20-21 season and maintaining the current number of games for the rebel WBBL and KFC BBL;
• Pausing international tours for Australia A teams, as well as CA XI fixtures, the Fox Cricket National Premier Cricket T20 and Toyota Second XI competitions for FY21;
• Retaining the U19s male and female representative teams as an important part of the pathway for emerging talent, while pausing male U15s and U17s and female U15s representative teams for FY21;
• Providing the States and Territories with greater autonomy to develop players in readiness for the elite level, addressing a long-standing request for change and significantly reducing costs of duplicate efforts at state and national level;
• Retaining our commitment to work with States and Territories to support programs and championships that foster diversity and inclusion, including the National Cricket Inclusion Championships, National Indigenous Cricket Championships and Toyota Australian Country Cricket Championships;
• Reducing budgets in areas including administration, travel and marketing and advertising; and
• Cutting all bonuses for senior management and implementing ongoing executive pay reductions.
Interim Chief Executive Nick Hockley said the temporary and permanent changes to Cricket Australia’s cost base would help cricket cope with the short-term impact of COVID-19 and create a more sustainable financial position to manage four-year cycles that can involve annual revenue swings of $100 million depending on the cricket schedule.
Hockley said Cricket Australia had sought to strike the right balance between continuing to invest in activities that would nurture and grow cricket in Australia while adopting a pragmatic approach to finding savings in non-essential and non-cricket-related activities.
“We are excited about the prospect of cricket returning this summer but are prepared for fewer crowds and higher associated costs of biosecurity measures in addition to the likelihood of incurring borrowing costs rather than investment returns. Taking costs out of the organisation, however painful, helps offset those impacts and we will remain vigilant to changing circumstances.”
Hockley acknowledged ongoing discussions with States and Territories and the Australian Cricketers’ Association were in the best interests of cricket and remained an integral part of the plan.
“We are confident that our actions today, along with support of the Board, States and Territories, fans and partners, are the right steps to ensure we can manage the continued uncertainty while doing all we can to deliver on the domestic and international program. With cost savings at the tail end of FY20 and a clear FY21 plan, Cricket hopes to be able to avoid further changes post COVID-19.
“This is a difficult day for cricket. But by pulling together and with more positive signs for the upcoming summer, the Australian Cricket family can emerge from this pandemic stronger for it.”
©Cricket World 2020