Sydney (AFP) - Cricket Australia has sent a formal letter to warring players officially informing them they will be unemployed if a deal is not reached this week in their protracted pay dispute.
Amid reports that Australia's cricketers will decide this weekend whether their image rights are sold offshore, CA high performance manager Pat Howard has warned they must seek permission to play in other Twenty20 leagues.
Months of bitter negotiations are coming to a head before the current Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) expires on Friday with players to be unemployed if there is no resolution.
Coming tours to Bangladesh and India are also at risk along with England's showpiece Ashes tour to Australia later in the year.
With the increasing likelihood of no agreement, media are reporting that some players will seek employment in foreign T20 leagues if they are left without a contract.
CA has warned players that if they sign with competing sponsors they will not be offered new contracts, The Australian newspaper said.
The more than 200 players who will be out of contract were informed that they would not be expected to train or play and that they would not be paid for that period even when a new contract was signed, the CA email said.
The correspondence is seen as a clear sign that CA intends to dig in if players do not agree to its proposal to modify the revenue-share arrangement from previous agreements.
The Australian Cricketers' Association has been staunchly opposed to CA's plan to modify the existing MOU that provides a flat share of revenue for the players.
- India, England ready to pounce -
CA has offered international men's and women's players a share of surpluses up to Aus$20 million (US$15 million), while increases in domestic players' payments would be capped at 18 percent (men) and 150 percent (women).
In the latest CA correspondence, Howard told the players: "If your contract expires on 30 June, you will not be an employee of CA, a State Association or a W/BBL Team from 1 July.
"This means that you are not required to play, train, perform player appearances or media commitments, and you will not be paid a retainer until such time as a MOU is agreed and a player contract is agreed with you in writing."
The players have established 'The Cricketers Brand' in anticipation of a lockout but CA warned them they need to be careful about new sponsors.
"All players will be provided with a list of protected sponsors for 2017/18," Howard wrote.
"Any player entering into unapproved endorsements during any uncontracted period puts at risk future endorsement arrangements with CA, State and W/BBL partners," and "puts you at risk of not being able to enter into a contract for the upcoming season with CA, the State or W/BBL Team.?
Fairfax Media said that with a resolution unlikely before Friday's deadline suitors in India and England were ready to pounce.
The players' union told Fairfax Media that they had had inquiries from India about sponsoring a collective of Australia's most high-profile players should the pay dispute not be resolved by Friday.
The likes of David Warner, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc and Glenn Maxwell are huge names on the subcontinent and would be in big demand.
"The negotiations have obviously created interest overseas and there has been genuine interest from the Indian market in regards to players' IP and taking that offshore," said ACA commercial manager Tim Cruickshank.