Seven West Media is threatening to walk away from its $450 million broadcast deal with Cricket Australia, according to multiple reports.
The two businesses look set for a showdown in the coming months.
Seven is currently arguing that the expected lack of international players in the upcoming Big Bash League will result in a lower quality tournament.
There is also still confusion over what the summer of cricket will look like, with COVID travel restrictions expected to wreak havoc – as they have done for other sporting codes.
“The quality obligations are paramount,” Seven West Media CEO James Warburton told the Herald.
“Should that not be delivered we are forced to consider all our options including terminating the contract and we have put them on notice accordingly.”
Warburton also last week criticised Cricket Australia for not having appointed a CEO since the departure of Kevin Robers in June and called it “the most incompetent administration I’ve ever worked with”.
Cricket Australia, meanwhile, has said it “remains committed to delivering a full and compelling summer of cricket”.
Interim CA chief executive Nick Hockley and Warburton are set to hold ‘crisis talks’ this week, according to the Herald.
Should these discussions be unsuccessful, there is an expectation the matter could end up before the courts, with Seven reportedly already briefed Melbourne lawyer Neil Young QC on the matter.
shakeup in the works?
Should Seven manage to successfully offload the rights to the cricket, the broadcaster would have significant room in its budget to make a play at another sporting code.
And according to reports in The Australian, the NRL and State of Origin is at the top of its list.
The reports suggest Seven is currently considering making an offer for Origin and has had informal talks with Foxtel about simulcasting the three-match series from 2023, when the current deal with Nine expires.
Nine declined to comment on the speculation.