FICA seeks end to image-rights issues with new players alliance

Cricket’s global union has followed the lead of its tennis counterpart, signing a commercial deal that aims to resolve the long-standing issues around players’ name, image and likeness rights which have lingered for more than two decades.

The Federation of International Cricketers’ Association (FICA) announced on Wednesday a long-term partnership with Winners Alliance, which formed in 2022 as an affiliate of the Novak Djokovic-backed Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA). Pat Cummins, Australia’s captain, described the deal as “an amazing opportunity” for men’s and women’s players.

Winners Alliance will negotiate commercial deals on behalf of cricketers who are members of FICA-affiliated players’ associations. “Most of the best players in the world are part of our global program which we have built with players, their associations and agents,” Tom Moffat, FICA’s CEO, told ESPNcricinfo.

“The program is focused on opening up new global group licensing opportunities to enable players to optimise certain collective name image-likeness rights, and to add new value for the game and commercial partners through opportunities that have previously been almost impossible because of the fragmented rights landscape in cricket.”

The deal will see Tim Cruickshank, who briefly played professionally for New South Wales, leave his role with the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) and join Winners Alliance as their vice-president of commercial partnerships in the Asia-Pacific Region. “It’s a dream opportunity for me,” Cruickshank told ESPNcricinfo.

Djokovic and Canadian tennis player Vasek Pospisil launched PTPA in 2020 and raised a reported $26 million to form Winners Alliance two years later. One source raised the possibility of cricketers being involved in cross-sport promotion opportunities as a result of the deal, featuring in advertisements alongside their tennis counterparts.

“I hope this really simplifies everything for potential partners: we want to make this as easy as possible for companies wanting to invest in cricket,” Cruickshank said. “Cricket has been a complicated player-rights market but collectivising them creates additional opportunities and is best practice for all athletes across global sport. We want to solve the pain-point that cricket has had for quite some time.”

Cruickshank used the example of video games, and the potential to sell collectivised name, image and likeness rights for the majority of international players. “If you want to be an officially licensed product, you’ll need to work with us,” he explained. “That obviously gives you great leverage in what is a pretty flooded market.”

FICA will also receive direct funding from Winners Alliance, which Moffat said will help the organisation continue to support players “on issues like their right to form and join players’ associations, to move freely in pursuit of employment, non-payment issues and global scheduling.”

The ICC are understood to be aware of the agreement, though declined to comment.

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