Johannesburg - Friday was the deadline for the submission of stadium bids to the six teams that are supposed to contest Cricket South Africa's (CSA) new T20 competition, which was intended to replace the now defunct Global T20.
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As the powers that be at the would-be host venues pressed “send” on their documents, some had already been informed by the private owners who had succeeded in tendering for Global T20 team ownership last year of their intention to take CSA to court to interdict the new competition.
Announced on June 8, the new competition – which is supposed to be run in conjunction with SuperSport in its capacity as minority equity partner in the new company formed to run the new league with CSA – is supposed to be played in November and December.
But CSA’s failure to draw a line under the old competition before announcing its next venture has created the kind of complications that could well see the new T20 competition also fail to take off because the old owners simply refuse to go away quietly.
As reported this week, CSA’s meeting with previous owners in Dubai didn’t go well, with owners reserving their rights to teams and demanding the federation reconsider its partnership with SuperSport. The delegation has referred the matter back to their board, which is considering its options and will make an announcement to that effect on Thursday or Friday. The decision to entertain the owners’ demand has to have set off a domino effect of delays to ticking its boxes as the tournament draws ever nearer.
A panel was supposed to deliberate on the stadium bids today, but now that’s not necessarily a sure thing as the board has more pressing issues. The competition has not secured a title sponsor, and what effect the ghosts of the failed tournament will have on negotiations is anybody’s guess.
The players – whose SA Cricketers’ Association still claims to be in the dark about the new league – have yet to be sounded out on their interest in participating. Given what happened the last time around, those negotiations shouldn’t be straightforward either, especially with a Dubai option for the players at around the same time.
To the layman, the big question is why the previous owners have such a hold over CSA given that the federation claimed to have closed the book on the Global T20 company before embarking on its new partnership with SuperSport.
While many understood that CSA had paid most of the owners back their deposits, most thought concluding those dealings was a simple matter.
But as a cricket insider explained, it’s not that simple: “When they stopped the Global T20, they said they were postponing it because they hadn’t sold their broadcast rights. Now that they have one [in SuperSport], the owners want to know why not go on with the competition?”
According to the official, the problem for CSA now is, if the owners take them to court, they have to prove that the new tournament is a different competition and not simply the same one under a different name.
Another insider said CSA had been hasty in announcing the SuperSport deal: “They should have got out and then announced they had a deal with SuperSport; they announced SuperSport too soon.”
The source also reiterated that CSA’s deal with SuperSport could well be on shaky ground, saying that because it hadn’t been incorporated yet, the broadcaster could still walk away from its stake due to the complications.
“At the time, the intention was to take it because they understood the other guys were out, but with a 49% stake, they could also be liable.”
CSA declined to comment, while all SuperSport’s spokesperson Sandile Luthuli said was: “We are in continuous discussions with CSA.”