Mediation session agreed by umpires, cricket association

WCUA secretary Sean Cole: happy to be heard at mediation.

WCUA secretary Sean Cole: happy to be heard at mediation.

THE Warrnambool Cricket Umpires’ Association (WCUA) has had a minor win in its bid to retain control of umpiring appointments and development in the region.

WCUA officials revealed they had secured a mediation session with the Warrnambool and District Cricket Association (WDCA) over a dispute stretching back to April.

The two organisations have been at loggerheads since the WDCA announced it would seize control of the management and training of umpires.

The decision — which also included withdrawing from a memorandum of understanding — would leave the WCUA to operate as a solely social entity.

The mediation session, arranged about three weeks ago, is scheduled for next Thursday. Respected Colac cricket identity and lawyer Jim Ryan is the mediator.

WCUA secretary Sean Cole said he was pleased the WDCA had accepted a request for mediation, after initially resisting.

“We’re happy to have it mediated and for us to put our point of view across in relation to the termination of the MoU and whether it’s justified or not,” he said.

“That’s what we’ve asked for all along and were flatly denied.”

Cole forecast an improved relationship between the organisations, should mediation determine the WDCA terminated the MoU without justification.

“If the MoU stands and isn’t terminated, the umpires are more than happy to supply umpires to WDCA matches under the existing terms,” he said.

“If anything needs to be discussed or altered within those terms, we’re more than happy to talk with members of the board to resolve any of those problems.”

WDCA chairman Nick Frampton was yesterday optimistic mediation was the right way forward in the search for a solution to the issue.

Frampton said a two-and-a-half-hour meeting with captains and officials of the 13 clubs last month had convinced the board to enter mediation.

“They just want to know they’re going to have umpires come the first Saturday in October. That’s where we are at the moment,” he said.

“We’re going to take a position into mediation that we think is reasonable and more importantly, the clubs think is reasonable.”

The revised position — “a strong mandate from the clubs” — involves the creation of a subcommittee to look after umpiring, featuring members of both organisations.

The sub-committee would ensure some decision-making power remained with the WCUA — particularly with regards to umpire appointments.

But umpiring would also benefit from the WDCA’s greater financial clout. The costs of uniforms and training would be offset somewhat.

“I’m really hopeful the umpires come with an open mind and can see the best option for their members is to accept this negotiated position,” Frampton said.

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