Cricket counties who don't pay players fair wages will face severe sanctions
Counties who do not pay players the minimum wage or spend at least £1.5million on salaries will face severe sporting or financial sanctions for the first time next season under the new County Partnership Agreement.
Sportsmail has learned that the potential punishments under consideration for failure to comply with the CPA include a ban on signing overseas players, point deductions and having their central funding withheld, as the ECB are determined to ensure county players receive a portion of the new record £1.1billion broadcast deal that begins next summer.
Following a year of negotiations between the ECB, the counties and the Professional Cricketers’ Association the CPA is finally ready to be signed, and it will include tough sanctions for clubs who fail to implement minimum standards.
Counties that don't pay sufficient wages will now face severe sporting or financial sanctions
The new agreement will bring significant financial benefits for most county players, as it includes the introduction of a £27,500 minimum wage for senior players and a doubling of the so-called salary collar stating that each county must spend at least £1.5m on total player salaries, with the crucial proviso that any counties who fail to comply will be punished.
From next season the PCA will have access to all player contracts for the first time, and any counties who are found not to be meeting the minimum standards will face sanctions.
Any breaches will be reported to CPA working party comprising representatives from the ECB, PCA and county chief executives who will determine the punishment.
Those that don't pay players minimum wage or spend £1.5million will be punished
In addition to fines and point deductions offenders could be barred from making foreign signings, or lose some of the £1.3m ECB funding which many smaller counties rely on to stay in business.
The CPA was provisionally agreed last November, but signing the agreement has been delayed on a number of occasions due to a series of disagreements between counties and the players, mainly over the terms of the new Hundred contracts.
One issue that remains to be resolved is the introduction of so-called rookie contracts, with six counties reluctant to extend the minimum wage to their young players.
Under the CPW, the 18 first-class clubs would be obliged to hand out formal rookie contracts to those emerging from academies - with individuals paid an annual wage reflecting their age - an 18-year-old would receive £18,000, and an 21-year-old £21,000.
Points deductions, a ban on overseas signings and having their central funding withheld are possible punishments
However, a third of the counties are contesting such terms, on the grounds that having to move half a dozen teenagers from trialist status and pay-as-you-play deals to full-time contracts would cost six figure sums.
Sportsmail revealed earlier this week that during the inaugural Hundred competition next summer several counties will recruit club players on short-term contracts for the 50-over One Day Cup, matches in which do not count towards the appearances required to trigger the new £27,500 minimum salary for full-time professionals.
The PCA are insisting however that even players on part-time contracts must receive a minimum wage agreed with the counties.