Cricket Australia’s board is on the cusp of removing Kevin Roberts as chief executive after a tumultuous chapter that has stunned players and sapped staff morale.
Roberts is yet to be given his marching orders, but it’s believed to be a case of when rather than if.
CA’s board is expected to meet during the next 24 hours to finalise interim measures as they seek to hit the reset button and mend relationships that have strained during recent months.
Finding a caretaker CEO, then permanent successor, shape as obvious pressing dilemmas, while chairman Earl Eddings will be keen to urgently provide staff some certainty about redundancies.
The pressure on Roberts has steadily increased since April 16, when he shocked CA workers by informing them the vast majority would be stood down for the rest of the financial year.
Disgruntlement has grown among staff, while the former NSW batsman has also failed to soothe discontent as the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA), several state associations and other stakeholders slung allegations they had been plunged into a confected crisis.
CA workers, many of which felt Roberts and his executives should have taken a far bigger pay cut than 20 per cent as they wrestled with COVID-19 financial challenges, are still anxiously waiting to find out if they will return on July 1 or be let go.
Roberts had indicated an update of substance would come on Wednesday, but the timeline and severity of CA’s staff cuts are decidedly unclear after Monday’s development.
The 47-year-old was contracted until 2021, having been appointed in October 2018 following James Sutherland’s 17-year tenure.
Roberts repeatedly insisted that belt-tightening measures were prudent because the health crisis had cast doubt over so much of this summer’s revenue, having sought a $200 million line of bank credit amid warnings that CA could run out of money by August.
Recent months have been full of promising COVID-19 developments in Australia, while India has made it clear it wishes to arrive this summer and play a series that should generate about $300 million in broadcast revenue for CA.
The governing body has debated its financial position and projections with the players union and state associations since Roberts started his cost-cutting mission, wanting to slice 25 per cent across the board.
The ACA, which memorably rowed with Roberts while he was the chief negotiator during the 2017 pay spat, and several states have questioned the numbers and need for such drastic action.
Usman Khawaja publicly accused CA of financial mismanagement, while many players feel CA should be better placed to weather the financial storm given the pandemic hit during their off-season.
Former Cricket NSW chairman John Warn, current CA director John Harnden and WACA chief executive Christina Matthews were the other candidates overlooked when Roberts was given the top job, a decision that rankled some state associations.
Matthews, who recently expressed public frustration at CA’s decision to not schedule an India Test in Perth this summer, would likely have strong support in state circles if she decided to apply for the position again.
Who is Kevin Roberts?
- Played 23 first-class games and 18 one-day matches for NSW
- Rose through the corporate ranks, including a stint as chief executive of clothing retail company Colorado Group when it was placed into receivership in 2011
- Served as a CA board member from 2012-2015, standing down to take up a position on the governing body’s executive
- Was enlisted as CA’s chief negotiator by former chairman David Peever during the acrimonious 2017 pay dispute, when he failed to remove the revenue-share model that shapes player pay
- Promoted to chief operating officer in 2018, then appointed James Sutherland’s successor later in the same year
- Oversee CA’s cultural rebuild after a damning independent review, including the returns of suspended superstars Steve Smith and David Warner
- Shocked staff and upset stakeholders in recent months with the extent of his cost-cutting drive amid the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting the pressure to rise as CA’s board became increasingly concerned.