Steve Baldas, the Adelaide Strikers general manager, is among 16 members of staff and seven contractors made redundant by the South Australian Cricket Association (SACA) as it became the first state cricket association to reduce the size of its operation amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
The SACA’s cost-cutting, announced to its members on Thursday night, is linked to the vast downturn in projected revenue for the Adelaide Oval after the AFL season was suspended due to health risks, with the association a joint partner in the management of the multi-purpose stadium with the SANFL.
SACA and SANFL finances are further complicated by the need to help repay a A$42 million state government-guaranteed loan to the Stadium Management Authority for the construction of a new hotel at Adelaide Oval, in time for the 2020 men’s Twenty20 World Cup later this year.
Other measures confirmed by the SACA president Andrew Sinclair included the reduction of salaries by 20% among remaining staff across the board, including on the executive team led by the CEO Keith Bradshaw. The association has also frozen the search for a new coach of the Redbacks men’s state team, after Jamie Siddons departed his post by mutual agreement.
Two experienced coaches remain in the SACA system, with Jason Gillespie contracted as coach of the Strikers and the former Australia coach Tim Nielsen still on board as high performance manager.
The departure of Baldas, formerly the chief executive of Tennis SA, after one season, has taken place at the same time Cricket Australia looks closely into the declining fortunes of the Big Bash League entering its 10th season, including the presentation of a competition review by the highly regarded broadcasting director and executive Dave Barham.
The Strikers finished third at the end of the 14-game BBL regular season behind the Melbourne Stars and Sydney Sixers, before being eliminated in a knockout final at Adelaide Oval by the fifth-placed Sydney Thunder.
“These decisions have not been made lightly – people are our number one priority,” Sinclair said in a message to members. “However, we need to act in the best interests of SACA as we face one of the toughest times in our 149-year history. We will continue to plan for next year’s cricket season, with the hope that we can all return to normality as soon as possible.
“It is now apparent that SACA’s financial operating position has been, and will continue to be, severely affected as this situation continues. While we are now in the cricket ‘off-season’, the shutdown of Adelaide Oval (and all associated match/event revenues) impacts us significantly as a fifty per cent joint-venture partner in the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority.
“As a response, SACA has been forced to implement significant cost-saving measures. The focus of these measures is to ensure that we can continue to operate and that we can get back to our role of providing cricket programs and matches across South Australia when conditions improve.”
Other states have not yet announced similar cuts, and all have somewhat different financial arrangements either directly tied to memberships, as is the case with the SACA and the WACA, or different models in New South Wales and Victoria where the SCG Trust and the Melbourne Cricket Club hold the memberships to watch matches at each state’s principal venue.
CA, which under its financial model provides an annual grant to each of the state associations for the running of their businesses and the development of cricket in each state, has indicated that its intent is to absorb the shock of the coronavirus pandemic into the business without resorting to staff cuts.