Channel Seven frustrated with Cricket Australia's handling of the cricket calendar; threaten to terminate contract

Channel Seven frustrated with Cricket Australia's handling of the cricket calendar; threaten to terminate contract

Nick Hockley. © Getty Images

Channel Seven have allegedly threatened to terminate their contract with Cricket Australia due to the board's poor handling of the international and domestic calendar for the 2020-21 season. They had signed a six-year contract with CA worth $450 million in 2018.

With the COVID-19 pandemic causing so much uncertainty around scheduling due to travel restrictions and safety concerns, the broadcasters have aired their concerns about the "quality" of the season.

So far, CA have only finalised dates for the women's international series against New Zealand and also penned in fixtures for the men's and Women's Big Bash Leagues. The Australian men's team is meant to play a four-match Test series against India and a one-off Test against Afghanistan during the home season. However, there is still no clarity around those fixtures. It is understood that many of the proposed fixtures may have to be tweaked once there is more clarity around the restrictions.

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James Warburton, Channel Seven chief executive, expressed frustration at receiving little to no clarity from CA about the schedule. He also added that quality of the matches would be as important as quantity.

"The quality obligations are paramount. Should that not be delivered we are forced to consider all our options including terminating the contract and we have put them on notice accordingly," he said.

"Ultimately they need to look at what is possible to deliver, stop talking about international borders being closed, or borders being closed, and start to look at what really is the season we are going to deliver," Warburton was quoted as saying by The Age.

"At the moment, you pick up the paper every day and you read four or five different things. You have got the Australian T20 and one-day captain saying one thing, you have got the coach saying another, you have got BBL franchises talking about no international players or grade cricketers."

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Meanwhile, Nick Hockley, CA's interim CEO, admitted that planning both domestic and international series through this period has been very challenging. He said once the board receive the required government exemptions and are able to put bio-security measures in place, scheduling would become easier.

"Scheduling during a pandemic has no doubt been challenging, particularly when factoring in the added complexities associated with international travel, but solid progress is being made," he said. "We're working through the schedules at the moment and there's going to be lots of great cricket and I think the main thing is we're committed to delivering the full international summer and to deliver a full BBL."