Australian cricketers create $200k ‘fighting fund’ for netballers amid pay crisis
In a remarkable show of solidarity, Australian cricketers have stepped forward to support the nation’s netball players during a contentious pay dispute with their governing body. In an unprecedented move, a dedicated financial fund is being established to provide assistance to the netball players, who have been grappling with Netball Australia over contract issues since September 30.
While the finer details of the arrangement are still being ironed out, the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) confirmed the creation of a ‘fighting fund’ for the country’s netballers, with the ACA actively spearheading efforts to rally player unions from various sports to extend their support to the netball community.
The ACA has disclosed its intent to allocate approximately $200,000 to this fund, showcasing their commitment to the cause.
At the heart of the matter lies the players’ insistence on a revenue-sharing model, in contrast to the stance of the eight Super Netball clubs and Netball Australia, who are advocating for a three-year profit-sharing arrangement.
Australia’s cricketers have a history of defending the revenue-sharing model in their sport, notably in 2017 during their own high-profile pay dispute with Cricket Australia. This background has driven their willingness to contribute personally to aid netballers in need.
ACA CEO Todd Greenberg highlighted that netball players are currently reliant on the support of friends and family for financial sustenance, despite their modest and reasonable financial requests within the sport. He stressed that the ACA believes netballers should be afforded the same partnership opportunities as their cricket counterparts, which have been instrumental in the success of cricket in Australia.
Netball’s players’ union recently called for mediation on the issue, asserting that players have gone to great lengths to make concessions in their offer. They also claimed that Netball Australia rejected their proposed “real partnership model” and presented an “unfair” deal.
Cricket 🤝 Netball
Australia’s cricketers have dug into their own pockets to offer support to #SSN players.@Todd_Greenberg chats to @BenHorne8 about how and why @ACA_Players is offering cross-code sport support. 👇 https://t.co/aITJD84d8b
— CODE Netball (@CodeNetball) October 17, 2023
While athletes from one sport have occasionally voiced support for their counterparts in other sports during negotiations, never before has there been a financial offer of support from one group of players to another. This act of solidarity is indeed unusual but deeply appreciated by the Australian Netball Players Association (ANPA).
ANPA CEO and former Australian Diamonds captain, Kathryn Harby-Williams, commended the courage of the Australian netballers – especially those on the lower end of the pay scale who often juggle university studies with their professional sports careers.
“Australian netballers are brave and resilient people,” Harby-Williams said.
“When your minimum wage is $40,000 you have to show a lot of courage to take a stand. That’s why this expression of support is so welcome. It lets the netballers know they are not alone.”
The dispute over the revenue-sharing model continues to leave netballers in contractual limbo, with contracts expired and players unpaid by their clubs. The situation does not appear to be close to a resolution, despite a call for mediation, initially resisted by Netball Australia.
In the absence of progress, mediation now seems to be a likely course of action, with both parties working towards an agreement on the choice of a mediator.
In the interim, access to the fighting fund established by the ACA will serve as a lifeline for netballers, helping them make ends meet while awaiting the rollout of new contracts.