The stoush between Cricket Australia and its disgruntled free-to-air broadcaster has escalated, with hope of a resolution prior to Tuesday’s deadline fading fast.
It has been a fortnight since Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton threatened to pull out of his network’s $450 million TV rights deal with cricket, declaring CA was “the most incompetent administration” he has ever worked with.
Warburton is seeking a reduction in Seven’s instalments for this summer, arguing CA won’t deliver what it promised.
Warburton and CA counterpart Nick Hockley met last Friday, with the former suggesting at the time it had been “constructive”.
The feuding organisations are still in dialogue but Seven has formally outlined its concerns about this summer’s schedule in a legal letter, which suggests CA is in breach of its contract.
This week’s notice could prove the first step in Warburton following through on his threat to walk away from cricket.
However, at this stage Seven is yet to declare that is its intention.
CA and Seven have both sought legal advice about the standoff.
Seven’s next payment to CA, worth approximately $25 million, is due on Tuesday.
The spat will become more heated if the broadcaster fails to meet that deadline, as looks to be increasingly likely.
“Cricket Australia remains in ongoing discussions with the Seven Network about delivering a compelling summer of cricket,” a CA spokesperson said.
“CA is committed to fulfilling its contractual obligations to all its partners this season.”
The governing body has all but finalised a rejigged schedule for summer, which is expected to start with six white-ball games between Australia and India.
Seven’s anger has largely been directed at the BBL, but the network is also unhappy that Fox Cricket will have exclusive rights to Virat Kohli’s first hits of the summer.
CA has pointed out the past two seasons have also started with Justin Langer’s team playing limited-overs games behind a paywall before donning their baggy greens.
The saga comes after a winter of discontent for CA, which removed Kevin Roberts as chief executive and axed 40 staff in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic.