Cricket Australia in shock as Seven starts legal proceedings

Cricket Australia (CA) says it is “surprised” by Seven Network’s decision to launch legal proceedings against the organization in a bid to end the $450 million TV rights deal.

Seven confirmed that federal court had initiated proceedings against CA, alleging that the governing body committed “multiple quality and standard violations” during its six-year rights deal.

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

It is reportedly happy with its Test cricket broadcasts, but not happy with the drastic deterioration of the BBL’s standards.

“It is Seven’s intention to [Media Rights Agreement (MRA)]provided that federal court issues a statement that Seven is entitled to do so,” a network statement said. “Seven has the right to waive this condition.

“The action for damages is not conditional. Seven will continue to fulfill its obligations under the MRA – in terms of broadcasting Tests and BBL etc – until terminated.

“Seven has followed the informal dispute settlement procedure under the MRA, but the procedure has not resolved the dispute.”

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

“In the circumstances, CA is surprised that Seven has taken this unwarranted action, which will be vigorously defended,” said a statement from CA.

“CA remains immensely proud of the efforts of the Australian cricket family, which includes players, match officials, sponsors, stadium managers, host governments, staff and volunteers whose hard work, dedication and expertise have enabled us to deliver two exceptional cricket seasons in unprecedented circumstances.”

The federal court paperwork was first filed by Seven v. CA in 2020.

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

CA has been desperately trying to revive the BBL in a bid to bring the Twenty20 competition back to its glory days.

Club ownership remains a key issue in the BBL, with both Cricket NSW and Queensland Cricket having a say this week in support of a privately owned move.

MONKEY/ABC

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