Johannesburg - The Global T20 broadcast rights issue was the straw that broke the camel’s back, but it would appear that departed Cricket SA (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat’s leadership style was the main reason he lost his job.
Since Thursday morning, when Lorgat “amicably” parted ways with CSA, many a supporting narrative has been told.
The organisation’s vice-president, Thabang Moroe, will replace him in an acting capacity.
The popular narratives are that Lorgat, who was appointed in 2013, made a hash of securing the broadcast rights for CSA’s inaugural international T20 competition, which begins on November 3.
Another is that he lost an organisational power struggle.
A CSA insider painted a picture of a power-hungry figure who led without consultation and rubbed many up the wrong way in his dealings, leading to a fractured relationship with a board assembled specifically to address the corporate governance issues that got his predecessor Gerald Majola sacked.
“His management style was an issue,” said the official.
“Since he was employed, CSA has changed two company secretaries, and those are the people who police the board; and he wanted to fire chief financial officer Naasei Appiah.
“The board doesn’t have relationships with CSA’s sponsors and stakeholders, Lorgat did. When his relationship with the board deteriorated, he threatened to walk away with those relationships.
"They [the board] needed to make sure they weren’t sunk when he left; CSA is more important than one individual".
Made too many mistakes
Lorgat allegedly also soured CSA’s relationship with government by sending his PA and the company’s spokesperson to meetings instead of going himself.
Depending on how one looks at it, the failure to secure broadcast rights for South Africa’s answer to the IPL, Big Bash and other global T20 competitions was either the excuse to get rid of Lorgat or the final straw.
“The board saw how disorganised it was and couldn’t risk it failing with all the money at stake,” said our source.
“The way he ran the show angered too many people...he made too many mistakes and left them exposed.”
According to an industry insider who understands what went on in CSA’s negotiations with broadcaster SuperSport, the company Lorgat tasked with handling the talks – Ortus Sport and Entertainment – without full tender asked for a whopping $20 million (R270.3 million) contract over three years.
Given that SuperSport still laboured under the impression it had already bought all the rights to all cricket in the country, the figure was understandably “worlds apart” from what the broadcaster was prepared to fork out.
“You have to remember that, after paying for the rights, SuperSport would have to produce 48 games.
"The competition doesn’t even exist yet and SuperSport was being quoted insane figures, and it wouldn’t have budgeted for any of this,” a spokesperson said.
Sound financial management
It is understood, however, that now that Lorgat – whose penchant for first-class travel appears to have irked friend and foe alike – is out of the way, CSA and SuperSport are keen to go back to negotiations.
However, a cricket official from one of the domestic franchises came to the embattled Lorgat’s defence, saying he may well have fallen victim to being a strong leader.
“There has to be more to it – failing to secure the rights can’t be the only reason,” the official said.
“Sometimes, if you’re a strong leader, it works for or against you. CSA had budgeted R100 million to set up the Global T20, so I don’t understand the complaints about the money spent so far.
“He brought sound financial management to cricket. At one point, we had R1 billion in the bank. He increased our reserves and was a smart financial manager.
"He was a strong administrator; I’d rather have a strong leader than a weak one".
Lorgat, who was supposed to be at CSA until 2019, is negotiating a settlement – rumoured to be about R3 million – with the organisation’s president, Chris Nenzani.