Cape Town - The Cricket South Africa (CSA) board has approved plans that will see South Africa's six franchise teams expand to 12 provincial teams from May 2020.
It would be a fundamental change to the domestic cricket landscape in South Africa and would effectively be the death of the franchise system.
CSA CEO Thabang Moroe confirmed this past weekend that CSA's predicted losses over the next four years sat at R350 million (down from R650 million) thanks largely to the proposed restructure.
While the plans have been approved at board level, CSA must now consult with the franchises as well as well as the South African Cricketers Association (SACA) before anything can start moving forward.
"We have a three-phased process where we will see Cricket South Africa go back to 12 provinces and we plan in the third year to either have Limpopo, Mpumalanga - or both - become part of the first-class structure, which will take us to the 14-member competition," said Moroe.
"Franchise cricket has been a huge burden to CSA's coffers.
"We are pinning most of our work and commercial strategy on the Mzansi Super League to be the programme that is actually going to fund domestic cricket."
The thinking is that the new 12-team system would give more playing opportunities to more players in South Africa.
General manager cricket of CSA Corrie van Zyl further announced the termination of the T20 Challenge, which is currently ongoing.
"Obviously with us collapsing the franchise system into the senior provincial system, you will have lesser competition costs associated with the competitions," said Van Zyl.
"Next year, we'll already be saving because of the termination of the T20 Challenge. From May 2020, we'll be moving to a 12-affiliate first-class structure, which enables us to have a saving.
"From a cricket perspective, the strength versus strength was very important. In our plan we will structure the new competition in such a way that we have strength versus strength, eventually getting to an A and B section at first-class level," said Van Zyl.
The six franchises currently playing in the top-tier of domestic cricket are the Cape Cobras, Warriors, Dolphins, Knights, Highveld Lions and Titans.
The 14 semi-professional provinces include Western Province, Boland, South Western Districts, Eastern Province, Border, KwaZulu-Natal, KwaZulu-Natal Inland, Free State, Northern Cape, Gauteng, Northerns, Easterns, North West and Mpumalanga.