Cricket Australia (CA) the country’s governing body, has offered its staff to a local supermarket during the government lockdown.
Last week, the organisation made 80% of its staff temporarily redundant until the end of their financial year at the end of June, meaning that they only receive 20% of the pay due to them. And they have signed warned of dire further financial consequences if lucrative competitions planned for later in the year, like the Men’s T20 World Cup which is scheduled to begin in October, or the subsequent tour by India, have to be postponed or cancelled because of the coronavirus.
Now, mindful of the financial problems facing those staff affected the CA’s chief executive, Kevin Roberts, has asked the head of supermarket group Woolworths if they can offer staff some hours to help make up the lost income.
Like a number of other countries, Australia has a job retention scheme which has been set-up to deal with the economic effects of the crisis, but the staff of CA does not qualify as eligible at the moment because the organisation has not lost any revenue from matches because of the virus so far.
Now staff used to dealing with international sportsmen may find themselves stacking shelves instead.
Whilst nobody could have foreseen the pandemic or the economic consequences that have arisen from it, Cricket Australia’s cash flow problems were an accident waiting to happen according to a number of observers. The Association is a non-for-profit organisation that receives funds from the Australian taxpayer to administer cricket in the country.
However, outside their remit, previous administrators chose to invest a large portion of their reserves in the Australian equities market which, like Stock Exchanges the world over, have since imploded. As a consequence, there is now a black hole in the balance sheet which could get even worse.
Players will be asked to take a pay cut but, the last time there was a salary negotiation in 2017, it resulted in a bitter and acrimonious dispute that dragged on for months and resulted in international players effectively left without jobs for several months.
As far as the furloughed staff, many of whom would have had no involvement in the decision to pursue the risky investment strategy, the current parlous financial state of the organisation they work for must be deeply worrying.
What is intended to be temporary positions with the supermarket could end up being full-time jobs in the future.