ECB unable to fulfil ICEC equal pay deadlines 

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The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has refused to commit to a specific deadline in which it addresses the pay gap between men and women. 

A report published in June by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) hinted at systematic misogyny and minority groups abuse happening in the sport, with ICEC Chair Hindy Butts concluding that sadly, “cricket is not a game for everyone”. 

According to the report’s authors, the evidence gathered showed that the average salary for England women in 2021 was 20.6% from that of England men during international white-ball cricket events. 

Also, the total money set aside for womens’ salaries during the first inauguration of The Hundred cricket tournament, again in 2021, was around 25% of what was spent for men’s payrolls. 

As soon as the report came to light in June this year, ECB Chair Richard Thompson hurried to issue an apology by saying: “Powerful conclusions within the report also highlight that for too long women…were neglected. We are truly sorry for this. I am determined that this wake-up call for cricket in England and Wales should not be wasted.”

Albeit the recommendations given by the ICEC to introduce equal pay on domestic and international levels by 2030 however, the latest statement from the ECB on the commitments towards this goal make it seem like the ‘wake-up call’ will be put on snooze for now, that is until a sustainable approach has been found to support all levels of the game.  

As per ECB’s official response to the ICEC report – “at a domestic level, equality of conditions of employment cannot be delivered with immediate effect given the current ownership structure for the women’s professional teams”. 

Next addressed in the response is ICEC’s recommendation on equal pay in The Hundred. The ECB states that more evaluation is needed before any steps are taken in order to ensure that the Board meets its responsibility “to balance these recommendations against the multitude of long-term investments required to grow and nurture the game at all levels”, all while currently being in a time of ‘financial constraints’.

This was more or less also explained by ECB’s Chief Executive Richard Gould, who directly tied in women’s pay to broadcasting deals and the value accumulated from them, highlighting even more the need to further develop the female side of the game: 

“(Equal pay on average) is something that we would like to achieve. We know though that we need to accelerate the growth of the commercial element of the women’s game.

“Broadcast value is the key determinant in any of these sports, and that is something we are going to have to deliver on.

“That’s why we want to be open and honest and say that’s not necessarily something we can do within those timescales, but we’ll have a good go.

“Most of our current major broadcast contract runs until the end of 2028. We know we’ve got a journey on there.

“Can we do it in one broadcast cycle? I don’t know is the answer. But we’re going to do whatever we can.”

And despite shying away to set a specific deadline on the above, the ECB still managed to produce significant commitments in its response to ICEC’s recommendations that are set to bring some positive changes into the sport. These include: 

  • A minimum investment of £25m per year above women’s cricket revenues to grow the women’s and girls’ game until 2028  
  • Removing financial barriers for new talents by 2025
  • Establishing a new independent Cricket Regulator that will be overseen by a Cricket Regulatory Board “ring-fenced” from the ECB by 2024

Gould added: “This response represents a set of actions that will accelerate and intensify our work to make cricket a game for everyone, actions that cricket can deliver and fund within an achievable timeframe.”

Sport England has revealed that it is aware of the publication and will provide more detailed views on it after holding scheduled meetings with the Chair and Chief Executive of the ECB to “discuss directly their approach and priorities”. 

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