PCA: The Power of Negotiation

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Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association

Read the contract negotiations feature from Issue 33 of BtB.

With the ink having just dried on the recent England Men’s and Women’s contracts, the negotiating table is still very much in use as the PCA looks to represent the players in an array of game-changing negotiations. Ollie Collins spoke to those involved…

Negotiating a new contract is always an important time. Be them domestic, regional or international players.

A good contract provides the bedrock for good performance. Financial security and stability, the ability to manage workloads, and helping to generally mitigate some of the worries that players might experience in what is far from a normal working life.

A contract that a player is unhappy with can have the opposite effect. It’s why the PCA – along with the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and the England Women’s Player Partnership (EWPP) work so hard at the negotiation table. All done in conjunction with the ECB.

This next round of contract negotiations involving the County Partnership Agreement (CPA), Regional Partnership Agreement (RPA) and ECB employment and commercial agreements, comes during the most complex contractual landscape the game has ever experienced. Due in no small part to the rise of T20 franchise leagues around the world.

PCA Chief Executive Rob Lynch sits on the TEPP Management Board, alongside hugely experienced legal representative, Bob Mitchell.

“The PCA’s role is to manage and present the views of its members in employment and commercial negotiations with the ECB,” said Lynch.

“The players are aware that we work on their behalf to deliver the best possible results, allowing them to concentrate on their performance and home life.”

“We’re trained to be good at cricket, we’re not trained in negotiating contracts or understanding necessarily what we’re worth as players.”

JOE ROOT

England Central Contracts were first introduced 23 years ago for men’s players and both current TEPP Chair, Richard Bevan, and longstanding counsel Mitchell have been at the forefront of the negotiations ever since.

Former PCA Chief Executive Bevan spent 11 years with the players’ union before moving on to the League Managers’ Association (LMA). In that time he was also a Federation of International Cricketers’ Associations (FICA) Director. Mitchell was instrumental in the original creation of TEPP and is a Partner at Harbottle & Lewis law firm, specialising in all aspects of sports law. He regularly advises the PCA and FICA on protecting cricketers’ interests and image rights.

“We take the PCA’s knowledge of insurance and how those contracts work in conjunction with domestic T20 contracts around the world,” said Mitchell.

“Then we bring in the relevant people with specialist knowledge to make sure the players are properly protected. As well as seeing they get appropriately remunerated.”

When former England Test captain Joe Root made his debut in 2012 – earning his first Central Contract the following year – TEPP was already well-established within the game. Root is only too aware of the player-body’s aim to enable players to remain focused on their priorities, having led TEPP in his time at the helm for England.

“We’re trained to be good at cricket, we’re not trained in negotiating contracts or understanding necessarily what we’re worth as players. So to have that guidance from professionals that have been involved for so long in Richard, Bob and Rob can only be beneficial,” remarked Root.

“The landscape looks really different in women’s cricket. Contracts have changed a lot since I started.”

NAT SCIVER-BRUNT

In 2024, 10 years will have passed since the England’s Women’s team first received Central Contracts. Nat Sciver-Brunt was a recipient of one of them and has seen big changes in the development of EWPP, first set up in 2017, and the women’s game on the whole.

Having starred in the Women’s Ashes series, the 31-year-old is now a member of the EWPP board. “The landscape looks really different in women’s cricket. Contracts have changed a lot since I started. The brilliant part about working with the PCA is we can raise current issues occurring across women’s sport, Rob and Emma Reid do a great job in negotiating for us, it’s been ever evolving and I’m sure it will continue that way in the future.”

The recent England Men’s Central Contracts have introduced the opportunity for players to sign multi-year deals for the first time, with 18 players putting pen to paper on two and three-year contracts. Root was one of three players, alongside Harry Brook and Mark Wood, to sign a three-year deal with the ECB in what is now a points-based system.

“Constant communication between TEPP and the PCA ensures that the best decisions are being made for the players.”

JOE ROOT

“It makes me feel secure,” said the man with over 18,000 international runs. “My focus – as it has always been – is to perform the best I can for England. And do it for the foreseeable future.

“Constant communication between TEPP and the PCA ensures that the best decisions are being made for the players. As an element it’s paramount.”

Important negotiations are also on the horizon in domestic cricket. With the new CPA in the men’s game and the RPA for the women. The PCA conducted an exhaustive consultation phase with all players, collecting data from pre-season meetings, the AGM and Players’ Summit. All collated via the dedicated PCA reps.

“We have a good understanding of what the player’s priorities are,” remarked Lynch. “This enables us to set out our strategy to deliver on these priorities for our members during any negotiations.”

Following the rise of women’s cricket in recent years, the ECB has set up a taskforce named ‘Project Darwin’, with the ambition of revitalising the domestic women’s game, something that The Blaze’s Sciver-Brunt is excited about.

“Regional cricket is good, but it’s great to be thinking about how to make it even better. By being proactive, it can only improve the women’s game and the England team too.”

His reputation made at Yorkshire, Root is passionate about the structure of county cricket. It’s his belief that if players are excited about playing English domestic cricket it will improve the system. The Sheffield-born batter is also adamant that allowing players the freedom of movement will lead to progress on all fronts. For this to happen, counties need to enter the CPA negotiations with an open mind.

“I don’t understand why anyone wouldn’t want players to play abroad. An improved player makes them more of an asset and more likely to be selected for England.

“And it’s a two-way street. Clubs need to respect the players’ views and the players need to respect their responsibilities to their counties. The relationship between the players and their county needs to be strong. That has never changed.”

“I’m not concerned at the moment but in the future, yes it could affect the England team. The franchise circuit is an exciting prospect.”

NAT SCIVER-BRUNT

Despite knowing these leagues provide greater playing opportunities for members, Lynch is aware they come with complications. It’s one of the motivating factors behind the ECB offering multi-year deals. “We are beginning to feel the impact of this change in the global employment landscape. Coming, as it does, as a genuine threat to the game in England and Wales. This is only going to get more complex. Flexibility is needed on all sides.”

For now, certainly, Sciver-Brunt is insistent that the players in the England women’s team see playing for their country as a priority. “I’m not concerned at the moment but in the future, yes it could affect the England team. The franchise circuit is an exciting prospect.”

With regards to the men’s game, Mitchell shares the same concerns. It’s possible that in the not too distant future we may see IPL franchises, particularly, attracting players to play in their worldwide teams, then loaning them back to their international sides. According to Mitchell it amounts to ‘turning contracts as we know them on their heads’.

Root wants to ensure the best players are available to play for their country, enabling England to remain one of the strongest international teams across all formats. The Yorkshireman says English cricket should be ‘wary’ of the increase in opportunities for players operating outside of county contracts. “Players will want new deals negotiated, reflecting the financial changes around the next MOU. But we still need to make sure that England cricket remains the pinnacle.”

The FICA AGM in Singapore highlighted the importance of global representation. Root again, “Rob (Lynch) has done great work with FICA from an international perspective. There’s a great understanding of where the game is going. We need to continue those same conversations with the ECB and English cricket. It will definitely shape how cricket looks in the future.”

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