Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) ambition to launch a world-class professional T20 cricket league still remains blocked in the pipeline as the South African cricket body is currently appeasing the irked franchisee owners who have threatened to take a legal route over lack of directions in the revised format with the league slated for November this year.
Dubai-based businessman Ajay Sethi, owner of Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, has threatened to take legal action against CSA for the lack of concrete plans for the league that could also see the change in the ownership of the franchisees. “Following meetings held in Dubai and Mumbai over the last few days, it is clear that Cricket South Africa are not committed to fulfilling their side of the deal with the bona fide T20 GL Owners,” Sethi said.
“The meetings in Dubai and Mumbai were attended by the owners and representatives of Nelson Mandela Bay Stars, Durban Qalandars, Joburg Giants, Stellenbosch Kings and Pretoria Mavericks. It’s evident after the meetings that there is no interest by the CSA Leadership to go ahead with the T20GL in its original format.
“They (CSA) have continuously changed their position and have shown to have no interest in working with the current T20 Global League owners. We now strongly feel they don’t wish to fulfill their commitment towards the owners. The owners have no option but to go the legal route and consider all legal options to protect our interests.
“All owners were awarded perpetual ownerships of teams. All owners fulfilled their obligations. The T20GL was postponed without keeping owners fully in the loop. The owners also strongly believe in the potential the T20GL has to benefit the sport in South Africa. We are extremely disappointed and angered by the unethical behavior demonstrated by the leadership of CSA,” Sethi added.
A CSA team led by its new CEO Thabang Moroe is currently meeting the owners of the teams in India and Dubai to calm their ire. The officials from GMR, that bought Jo’burg Giants, and the representatives of Preity Zinta, who acquired the Paarl-based franchisee Stellenbosch Kings, where among those who met the CSA officials yesterday.
The owners have complained that the current CSA leadership does not inspire confidence. “They are suggesting that they will have a six-team league which will be run by their provincial units. And next year they intend to take us on board. We don’t have confidence in them,” said an owner, who met the CSA team in the city yesterday.
The inaugural edition of the CSA Global T20 league, a brainchild of former CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat, was cancelled last year for the lack of broadcasters, title sponsors and a clear plan of revenue streams to offset the initial losses until breakeven.
Lorgat resigned from his position citing personal preferences, particularly after his failed talks with the Indian broadcasters to air the inaugural event in India. After Lorgat’s exit, CSA announced partnership with SuperSport in June this year to revive and revamp their ambitions of a T20 league.
After it was first announced in October 2017, Bollywood stars Shah Rukh Khan and Preity Zinta, Delhi Daredevils owners GMR Group, and various other business magnates from Pakistan and Dubai went ahead to purchase the franchisee rights of the Global T20 League.
The league, even after having eight franchisee owners and a completed player draft, had failed to see the light of the day last year and was postponed until November 2018.
The new structure of the league resembles the Big Bash League model where there is no private ownership and the national board conducts the tournament with Provincial / State units as the franchisee rights owners. The current team owners are fearing their ouster as the number of teams, to be owned by the CSA State units, have been reduced from eight to six leaving no role to play for them in the revised format.
The franchisees had invested heavily for building their teams and team infrastructure for the league.