CA spruiks record attendances as pay dispute continues

Big Bash League attendances were up 8% on average compared to last year © Getty Images

A record season for cricket attendances in Australia only serves to highlight the importance of maintaining the existing revenue-share model between players and Cricket Australia, according to the Australian Cricketers’ Association.

The day after the conclusion of the 2016-17 summer of cricket, CA released figures that showed 1,863,846 people attended elite cricket in Australia throughout the season, up on the previous record of 1,727,270 set last summer.

While CA was happy with the crowds for the two day-night Tests played during the season, against South Africa in Adelaide and against Pakistan at the Gabba, it also noted the continued strength of the BBL and WBBL tournaments. The BBL averaged 30,114 attendees per game, up 8% on last year, which CA said made it the fifth biggest sports league in terms of average attendance in the world.

Notably, these figures come as CA and the players are embroiled in an ongoing pay dispute, centred around CA’s desire to scrap the revenue-sharing model that has existed for two decades. The ACA chief executive Alistair Nicholson said the record figures showed the importance of maintaining the existing system.

“Australian cricket is enjoying success built on the hard work of players and administrators alike,” Nicholson said. “Hard work supported by a partnership which undeniably works. These figures are proof of that. We have a successful game built on a successful partnership and long may that continue.

“Crucially, its success across all formats with truly exciting results in the domestic game as well. Whether at national, State or Big Bash level, the public’s appetite for cricket throughout the summer is fantastic. The figures clearly indicate the importance of all formats of the game in growing fan and viewer engagement, and is really a testament to how the players at all levels contribute to this.

“It also highlights that the domestic players, as much as the national players, contribute to cricket’s success in this country. This is a point we will continue to reinforce in the current MOU negotiations, because we are wondering why CA would seek to break such a successful partnership model given it is clearly working so well.”

CA chief executive James Sutherland also commended the players for their part in driving the success of the game.

“The interest in the elite level of our game, is also translating to our grassroots, where we are already seeing an increase in our preliminary participation figures compared to last season,” Sutherland said. “Thanks must go to the players who take part in all of our formats. The BBL and WBBL players in particular are helping to inspire the next generation through their ongoing fan engagement and brilliant action on the field.”

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