CA hit back at Seven for bagging the game

The Seven Network has filed court papers flagging a possible multi-million dollar claim against CA.
The Seven Network has filed court papers flagging a possible multi-million dollar claim against CA.

Cricket Australia says the Seven Network is talking the game down after the broadcaster lodged court documents flagging a potential multi-million dollar damages claim.

Seven on Monday evening lodged an application in the Federal Court to see emails between CA, the Board of Cricket Control for India (BCCI), Foxtel and state governments.

The broadcaster claims CA were beholden to the BCCI, giving in to India's wishes to start their Australian tour with ODI and T20 matches which are broadcast solely on Foxtel.

Seven's managing director Lewis Martin also expressed concern at dwindling BBL ratings, saying he'd been told television audiences for the tournament had dropped more than 23 per cent from the 2017/2018 edition.

Martin said he believed CA may have breached its obligations to Seven.

"If my belief is well-founded, I expect that Seven's damages claim may be for many millions of dollars given the significance of cricket coverage to Seven's advertising revenue and the magnitude of the scheduling changes made by CA," Martin wrote in the affidavit, seen by AAP.

CA's interim chief executive Nick Hockley hit back on Tuesday, saying the organisation was tired of the drama being played out in public after more than three months of dispute between the parties.

"With so much positivity around Australian cricket, it is disappointing that Seven West Media has again chosen to use the media to talk our wonderful game down," Hockley said.

"CA has maintained all along our commitment to delivering a thrilling summer of cricket and on behalf of all involved, be that governments, partners, players and staff.

"I'm proud to say we are doing just that.

"In the most challenging environment sport has faced, with the support of our friends at the BCCI, CA has ensured that the much-anticipated series with India can go ahead safely."

It is believed CA will resist calls to release the email dialogue and is confident in its legal position.

Seven's latest move calls into question its $450 million rights deal with CA, in which the network pays more than $70 million per year.

White-ball internationals have opened the past two men's summers in Australia and would have this year as well before the India series, if not for matches being cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

After the Twenty20 World Cup was postponed, Australia's T20s against West Indies were scrapped along with a one-off Test against Afghanistan.

In a move that irked Seven, ODIs and T20s against India were shifted to before the Test series.

That allowed India's Test and white-ball player squads to tour as one after the IPL concluded, and their limited-overs players to go home once the Tests started.

In turn, it means the first free-to-air men's cricket on Seven is the BBL on December 10, with the Border-Gavaskar Test series opener to follow on December 17.

A dispute separate to the Federal Court applications also remains ongoing, with Seven pushing for a reduction in fees beyond the 20 per cent CA offered.

That decision is expected within weeks, but further legal action could result given CA may question the power of the arbitrator ruling on the issue.

Australian Associated Press