Ball tampering: The staggering financial cost for a day of Cape Town madness

David Warner and Steve Smith will resume playing for Australia after being named in the 2019 World Cup squad.

David Warner and Steve Smith will resume playing for Australia after being named in the 2019 World Cup squad. Photo: Getty

Tears, heartache, tarnished reputations … and a whole lot of money down the drain.

David Warner, Steve Smith, Cameron Bancroft and Cricket Australia (CA) would all be hoping they have seen the worst of ‘Sandpapergate’.

But the reality is the financial and commercial costs may only continue to grow.

Of course, this scenario is incredibly problematic for CA.

And it has come at perhaps the worst time possible, given the organisation is currently in the midst of negotiating the next round of television broadcasting rights.

For sporting bodies, broadcast rights present the biggest chance to make money.

The last broadcast deal went for $A500 million over a five-year period and the governing body now want $A1 billion for a similar deal.

But in the current climate, given the significant reputational damage suffered by Australian cricket, a figure far closer to something in the vicinity of $A700 million is more likely.

And early bids that have been submitted have underwhelmed CA.

Critically, former TV rights holder Nine looks like it may have already abandoned ship after Thursday’s announcement it has secured the rights to Australia’s summer of tennis for the next five years.

Where that leaves the television deal is anyone’s guess. But what is sure is that CA is not going to get the money it thought it would.

And events in Cape Town have played a big role in that.

Of course, CA will argue that the star of the broadcast rights show is now the Big Bash League, which has no doubt increased in value and remains relatively unscathed by the saga.

But the drama in South Africa will not help entice media players to increase their rights bids.

Media organisations will strongly argue that this crisis has weakened the strength of CA, tarnished cricket’s reputation and then they will point to the suspensions given to the players.

They’ll wonder just how competitive the Australian Test team will be against India next summer without two of their best players.

And they will know that everyone loves a winner and if Australia is not competitive, or losing more than it wins, audience figures will drop, which will reduce advertising demand and revenue.

Also on Thursday, one of CA’s major sponsors, wealth management company Magellan, announced they had severed ties with the organisation because the scenes in Cape Town were, as they said, “so inconsistent with our values”.

Magellan Ashes

You won’t see signage like this in Australian cricket this summer. Photo: Getty

The move came just months into a three-year contract, with Magellan’s withdrawal costing CA an estimated $A15 million.

The cost to the players

Sanitarium and the Commonwealth Bank cut ties with Smith this week, while ASICS followed suit in regards to deals they had with Warner and Bancroft.

And Warner also lost his deal with electronics company LG.

Who knows if other companies will step forward to follow suit?

It is certainly not inconceivable to believe that by the time the dust settles, the three players at the centre of this storm could be left without their playing contracts and any sponsorship and endorsement deals.

During their respective captaincies, Forbes reported that Michael Clarke and Ricky Ponting earned somewhere around $A2 million a year in endorsements and sponsorship deals.

It is not unreasonable to think Smith, as captain, and Warner as vice-captain, would be earning a similar amount today.

Smith and Warner have been banned for 12 months each, jeopardising their Cricket Australia contracts, which are reportedly worth $A2 million and $1.4 million respectively.

David Warner

Warner (above) and Smith will not be played in the IPL in 2018. Photo: AAP

To add extra salt to their wounds, the Indian Premier League have torn up the pair’s contracts for the upcoming season, worth around $A2.5 million each.

And the costs don’t stop there …

If the Aussies, without Smith, Warner and Bancroft battle on the field later this year, attendances are likely to drop, reducing gate receipts and even merchandise sales.

For every sport and its athletes, reputation is everything.

Once it is damaged, the on-field and cultural consequences can be devastating, but so too can the business complications.

For all concerned, this has been – and will continue to be – a very costly exercise.

Dr Sam Duncan is a lecturer of sports media and sports business at Melbourne’s Holmesglen Institute.

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