16 Jun

Cricket Australia (CA) has parted ways with chief executive officer Kevin Roberts, the governing body confirmed today. Roberts is the third CEO of a major Australian sporting code to exit during the coronavirus crisis, after Todd Greenberg (NRL) and Raelene Castle (Rugby Australia). Both Greenberg and Castle departed in the past two months.

CA chairman Earl Eddings broke the news to staff via a live stream this morning, saying the board needed fresh leadership to move on from the disruption that engulfed the organisation in the past few months. The Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) lodged a formal dispute regarding CA’s revenue forecasts, while TV broadcasters are expected to try to renegotiate the A$1.2bn deal that will soon enter its third year.

Nick Hockley (pictured), the CEO of the T20 World Cup local organising committee, will take over the reins at Cricket Australia on an interim basis, effective immediately after Roberts tendered his resignation.

Hockley oversaw the successful women's T20 World Cup in February and March that culminated with Australia's win in front of 86,174 fans at the MCG on March 8, shortly before the COVID-19 pandemic caused a global lockdown.

The men's T20 World Cup tournament, which was scheduled to be played in October and November this year, remains in serious doubt and is expected to have its fate determined at the International Cricket Council's July board meeting.

The English-born Hockley was previously CA's head of commercial projects between 2015 and 2017 before taking on the T20 World Cup role. He previously worked on the 2015 men's ODI World Cup in Australia and spent six years with the London Olympics organising committee before that.

Eddings said an "operational reset" for the governing body would still take place this week, as planned. Staff are expected to learn of budget cuts and redundancies on Wednesday.

Eddings stated, "It is essential that Cricket Australia continues to provide strong leadership and works constructively with everyone who has an interest in the future of the game – the players, all employees, the state associations, commercial partners and supporters."

Roberts, who had been appointed on a three-year term to replace James Sutherland in October 2018, leaves his post after just 20 months at the helm.

Cricket in Australia had been riding high after the successful women's T20 World Cup final, but off the field the cancelled tours and disrupted domestic schedules put stress on a complicated financial situation. The financial modelling provided a grim outlook as it also coincided with an imminent low point in the game's four-year revenue cycle.

CA's reserves dwindled by some $20 million in a matter of weeks due to fluctuations in the global financial market – although conditions have since improved and no losses were incurred as the assets were not realised – as well as contributions to the costs associated with supporting the men's T20 World Cup.

The vast majority of CA staff were stood down in late April until June 30 – saving the organisation some $3 million – while executives took a 20 per cent pay cut.

Roberts told staff CA had three goals in that timeframe: to secure a line of credit with a bank, a reduction of funding to the states and territories, and to finalise negotiations with the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA) over changes to player payments. All three areas remain unresolved.

At the same time, CA would look to reduce 25 per cent from its cost base for the 2020-21 financial year, Roberts publicly declaring that "no area of the organisation will be untouched” as the administration braced itself for a season of limited crowds, expensive biosecurity measures and the possibility of a reduction in broadcast revenue.

John Stephenson


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