Pakistan close agreement on central contracts
Pakistan reach landmark agreement on central contracts
The Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan men’s team players have reached a landmark agreement on central contracts, concluding numerous months of deadlock and unpredictability. For the very first instance in Pakistan, three-year contracts have been set up- instead of the nominal 12 months- along with a notable increase in player earnings, along with fixed share of revenue from the Pakistan Cricket Board’s earnings from the International Cricket Board.
The agreement comes approximately three months after the most recent central contracts expired on June 30. Pakistani players had been playing without receiving any retainers or other financial compensation. It is understood that Pakistan Cricket Board presented the players the alternative to continue the payment structure of the old contracts until the new deal was landed, an offer the players declined.
By and of itself, there was a dead end between the two parties, with the Test series in Sri Lanka, an ODI series against Afghanistan, and the Asia Series all played by players without active contracts. It seemed inevitable that the Shaheens would play the World Series without contracts too, with the skipper Babar Azam putting forward no indication that an agreement was finalised during his pre-departure press conference.
While the board and the players were far off in terms of what they were willing to agree to for the majority of the last few weeks, the deal that has been closed is more munificent for players than any in late history. The monthly retainer was never really the highlight, with Category A players getting PKR 4,500,000 (USD 15,590), a more than quadruple increase over last year. The Pakistan Cricket Board had formerly provided Category A players the option to compete in just one T20 League apart from the Pakistan T20 League, but agreed to permit all centrally contracted players two extra leagues irrespective of the category of the contract.
So far the greatest striking point, though, was the likelihood of revenue sharing. The players urged a chunk of the revenue the International Cricket Board annually pays to the Pakistan Cricket Board, something the board was unwilling to agree to. The parties eventually agreed to the players acquiring a 3% share of revenue, which equals to around USD 1 million (the PCB will earn USD 34 million/year from 2024 as a percentage of the International Cricket Board revenue). This will be distributed amongst players over and above their monthly retainers and match frees, which will also see a spike. While it is contrasting from Australian Cricket Board’s 27.5% revenue-sharing deal with its centrally-contracted players, or the Indian Cricket Board’s 26%, the Pakistan players were eager to join hands to any share, although little, to set a precedent.
The primary reason the players mustered to get their board to agree to a large portion of their terms was a collective bargaining position. It is learnt that four players directing the negotiations- Mohammad Rizwan, Babar Azam, Shadab Khan and Shaheen Shah Afridi- put forward a united front for these conversations, and retained the rest of the team’s trust to negotiate on their behalf.
The decision behind the extension of these contracts to three years also offers all parties with long-term certainty. This does not imply that all players presently holding central contracts will keep them for the coming 36 months, or even that they cannot be demoted. The contracts will be subject to annual review, with players possibly coming in or dropping out, but the framework and infrastructure of the contracts set to remain unchanged till 2026.
Pakistan reached Hyderabad on Wednesday, where they are set to play their warm up games against Black Caps on September 29 and then Kangaroos on October 3. They will open their World Series campaign against the Netherlands on October 6.
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