County cricket’s minimum wage is set to drop within months of it being introduced due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the English game.
A guaranteed £27,500 salary for full-time professionals was a cornerstone of the Professional Cricketers’ Association’s negotiations on the new county partnership agreement – but that is to be reduced to £24,000 for those aged 21 or over as part of game-wide budget cuts.
Rookie players, aged between 18-21, were guaranteed to be paid £18,000 – and automatically receive an upgrade to full-time status after fulfilling a certain number of appearance – but that qualification period is to be lengthened while the recently outlawed ‘summer’ contracts that have seen players pick up less than the minimum wage in trying to earn longer deals will be permitted for those in education or those who hold employment outside the sport.
The alterations – yet to be finalised – are designed to allow as many players to remain in domestic cricket’s ranks as possible. The changes would come into force for the 2021 season only, with the intention of moving back to previously agreed levels for 2022.
It comes amid fears that the ECB’s annual handouts to the 18 first-class counties could be cut by a quarter for 2021.
‘We recognise the gravity of the situation moving forward and are looking at measures that might help save careers. We are playing the ball in front us and seeing this as a time for responsible collective action,’ said the PCA’s interim chief executive Rob Lynch.
With a number of counties’ financial year-ends falling on September 30, the ECB are expected to advise clubs of the funding levels they can expect between February 1, 2021, to January 31, 2022, next month.
A reduction is inevitable although one chief executive questioned the doomsday forecasting of between 20-25% of the £3.5million annual distribution being withheld, pointing out that the £100million losses for the ECB this summer represented approximately 10% of the five-year television deal that funds the sport and therefore such a percentage applied annually over that period was more realistic.