Mercedes-Benz Reportedly Close To Deal With Aussie Cricketer Steve Smith
Toyota rival Mercedes-Benz is "closing in on the signature of Test captain and face of the game Steve Smith," as Cricket Australia continues talks with "major sponsors concerned about being ambushed in the pay war," according to Ben Horne of the Sydney DAILY TELEGRAPH. Negotiations continued on Sunday in Melbourne, "with CA buoyed by the news" that CA CEO James Sutherland's "prodigiously talented" son Will chose cricket over the Australian Football League "in the midst of the dispute." However, "the game is living on a knife's edge and cricket's official sponsors are demanding peace as a matter of urgency." Last week, cricketer Mitchell Starc "publicly announced his new personal arrangement with Audi Parramatta." Smith's manager "is overseas in India and could not be contacted" to confirm if a car dealership deal has already been finalized for his client. However, "the mere fact the Australian skipper and its biggest name is being circled by Toyota rivals led by Mercedes, shines another searing spotlight on the cut-throat importance" being placed on cricket resolving its pay dispute this week. Smith "is doing nothing out of the ordinary by signing with a car dealership -- in fact it happens regularly with CA approval." The "key difference" is that with no MOU in place, Toyota is "not protected in any way and players are no longer banned from doing public promotion like Starc did" (DAILY TELEGRAPH, 7/16).