Cricket South Africa’s board will be asked to reconsider its equity deal with SuperSport for a new T20 league after meetings between officials and T20 Global League franchise owners last week. The owners collectively reserved their rights to teams and want the 49% share SuperSport currently holds to be handed over to them. The four CSA representatives who met with the owners – CEO Thabang Moroe, acting COO Naasei Appiah and board members Louis von Zeuner and Iqbal Khan – told owners they will revert to them in 10 days, after consulting with the board.
This follows four days of heated meetings in Dubai and Mumbai in which CSA was asked to clarify the owners’ statuses, something one owner told ESPNcricinfo CSA failed to do. “They did not have any answers for us,” Hiren Bhanu, owner of the Pretoria Mavericks said. “But they did tell us that the deal with SuperSport is not finalised, has not been signed and no terms are agreed.”
Bhanu intends to seek an interdict against CSA to stop any new league from going ahead, while other owners are also considering legal action. In June, three other owners – the Durban Qalandars, the Bloemfontein City Blazers and the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars – said they would take CSA to court but haven’t followed up on that threat yet. The owners do not merely want CSA to return their deposits of USD 250,000 (which has been repaid) and for CSA to cover expenses they incurred in setting up the league, some of which amount to millions of dollars, but are demanding a stake in the league, even though CSA has changed the competition’s format and ownership model.
In June, nine months after the postponement of the inaugural edition of the GLT20, CSA announced it had entered into a deal with private broadcaster SuperSport for a new T20 league, to replace the GLT20. SuperSport also holds the broadcast rights for all cricket played in South Africa and all South Africa’s series abroad. The owners of the GLT20 teams have separately said they regarded CSA’s actions with SuperSport as going behind the owners’ backs to sell a property which the owners already have a claim on.
The only detail of that new league was revealed at the end of last month when Moroe announced the board had approved a six-team format, two fewer than the original GLT20, and that venues would have to bid for a team. The original GLT20 owners were not part of the new league, though CSA obliquely mentioned they may consider their involvement at a later stage.
That explanation has never placated the owners , who consider themselves to have a stake in a T20 league – of any name – played in South Africa, which is what they are willing to fight CSA over. Seven of the eight owners – all except the Cape Town Knight Riders who excused themselves from the meetings last week – want first option to buy into a new league, given their involvement in the previous one.
A ninth party, Osman Osman, the minority-shareholder owner of the Mavericks, has brought separate legal action against CSA demanding an explanation of why it offered him R 400,000 (USD 28,128) as a “gesture of goodwill”. Effectively, Osman Osman wants to force CSA into a position from which it will have to disclose its legal obligations to all owners involved in the botched GLT20.
When asked for comment, a CSA spokesperson said the organisation would not make any media statements until the CEO meets with the board. “Unfortunately there will be no comment from CSA regarding these matters as the Chief Executive has not met with the board. Once he has, CSA will assess what the feedback is from them and communicate through our media channels.”