New Year's Test stays at Newlands despite WP Cricket's troubles

2019-10-04 12:12
Newlands (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Newlands will still host the 2020 New Years Test match between the Proteas and England despite the Western Province Cricket Association (WPCA) having been placed under administration less than two weeks ago. 

This confirmation comes after Cricket South Africa (CSA) CEO Thabang Moroe late last month raised doubt over whether the lucrative fixture could be accommodated by the iconic venue. 

Newlands is currently undergoing a R750 million development to its northern precinct which, it can now be confirmed, was the sole reason for the WPCA having been placed under financial administration by CSA. 

The entire WPCA board has been suspended as a result. 

Speaking at the Cape Cobras launch on Friday, however, Western Province CEO Nabeal Dien confirmed that the fixture would go ahead as planned. 

Dien confirmed that there had been challenges and that Western Province did not meet "certain obligations" in the construction project, but he was certain that the issues surrounding the January 3 Test had been resolved. 

Dien could not say how long it would take for the WPCA to take back complete control of its own finances, but he did confirm that CSA had now become a 12% shareholder in the project. 

That was not the case when the plans were first announced back in March. 

The development will see four new office blocks erected on the northern precinct of the stadium which will be leased out for office space.

Sanlam will be funding 51% of the development while WP Cricket themselves initially committed to raising the funds for the other 49% - 12% of which is now CSA's.

Varsity College have committed to occupying one of the buildings in the office space-type construction and will account for around 40% of the area.

"We had a meeting with the CSA CEO on Monday and he indicated clearly that his words were taken out of context in terms of that (the initial report that the Newlands Test was in doubt)," said Dien.

"The Test match will still be at Newlands."

The grass banks on the northern section of the ground will be out of bounds throughout the Test, reducing the capacity of the stadium from 18 000 to 16 000, Dien said. 

"That entire area is out of bounds on any match day and it was a concern, but we have been busy with it since June and we have provided a document to CSA which they have expressed complete confidence in," he added.

Turning his attention to the development and CSA's intervention, Dien was hopeful that common ground had now been found. 

"From an operational perspective, we continue as normal," he said.

"It's linked entirely to the project and to the fact that we had to meet certain obligations that we did not meet in time.

"I can say with a reasonable amount of confidence that the project is back on track.

"We tre trying to resolve it as quickly as possible ... these things are complex.

"The finance and administration around the project is in question, and that is all I can say at this point."

Dien confirmed also that Standard Bank, along with Sanlam, was a major investor in the project. 

"In the last 10 days we have stabilised that to a huge extent. Sanlam and Standard Bank are big role players and the risk of them getting off the project would be a huge dilemma for us.

"Meetings with them have reconfirmed that they are on board and the project has moved in.

"The main thing is that we draw a line in the sand and move forward.

"The project is for prosperity and for the future.

"A number of us knew that there would be a lot of pain to get this to where it is today and I sense that a lot of that pain has passed. We will still have pain, but when we get to the end of January 2021 when everything is up then we will all benefit."

Read more on:    proteas  |  cape town  |  cricket


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