Cricket Australia in shock as Seven launches court proceedings

Cricket Australia (CA) says it is “astonished” by the Seven Network’s decision to commence legal proceedings against the organisation in an bid to terminate its $450 million TV rights deal.

Seven confirmed it had launched Federal Court action against CA, claiming “multiple quality and standard breaches” have been made by the governing body during its six-year rights deal.

The network has broadcast Test cricket in Australia, women’s internationals as well as BBL and WBBL since 2018 when it secured the rights from CA’s long-term free-to-air partner, the Nine Network.

It is reportedly satisfied with its broadcasts of Test cricket but unhappy with the drastic slipping of standards of the BBL.

“Seven’s intention is to terminate the [Media Rights Agreement (MRA)]conditional on the Federal Court granting a declaration that Seven is entitled to do so,” a network statement read. “Seven has the right to waive this condition.

“The damages action is not conditional. Seven will continue to perform its obligations under the MRA — in terms of telecasting Tests and BBL etc. — until terminated.

“Seven has pursued the informal dispute resolution procedure under the MRA but the procedure failed to resolve the dispute.”

CA has responded by claiming its last two cricket seasons have been successful, despite “the enormous challenges presented” by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the circumstances, CA is astonished that Seven has brought this unwarranted action, which will be strenuously defended,” a CA statement read.

“CA remains enormously proud of the efforts of the Australian Cricket family, including players, match officials, sponsors, stadium operators, host governments, staff and volunteers whose hard work, dedication and expertise allowed us to deliver two exceptional cricket seasons in unprecedented circumstances.”

Federal Court paperwork was first lodged by Seven against CA in 2020.

Seven West Media chief executive James Warburton once declared CA was “the most incompetent administration” with which he had worked.

CA has desperately tried to revitalise the BBL in a bid to take the Twenty20 competition back to its glory days.

The ownership structure of clubs remains a significant issue in the BBL, with both Cricket NSW and Queensland Cricket vocal in backing a private ownership move this week.

AAP/ABC

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