A proposal to re-launch a drastically reimagined Global T20 League – as a CSA-owned tournament – was rejected by the Cricket South Africa Members’ Council at the organisation’s board meeting in Durban last weekend. A new deadline of March 31 has been set to decide the stalled tournament’s future.
The rejected plan, seen by ESPNcricinfo, had proposed the GLT20 be transformed from an IPL-style league to a model similar to the BBL, where the eight teams would be owned and run by CSA and not private owners. The plan included capping the number of foreign players per squad at three, and with only two in each starting XI. Significantly, each team had to adhere to strict transformation targets, to pick five players of colour, including at least two black Africans, in their starting XI. Such a league was set to cost CSA 180 million rand for the first three years, after which it was set to turn a profit.
The model would also have had far-reaching effects on the current domestic structure, resulting in the scrapping of the franchise T20 competition – last season called the Ram Slam – and the relegation of the one-day cup to a “non-consumer facing product”. That would mean no List A matches being televised; as it is, only a select number of 50-over games are broadcast and no first-class games. The further diminishing of the domestic game is believed to be one of the reasons the Members’ Council – CSA’s decision-making body made up of the 12 provincial presidents – did not agree to the new model for the GLT20.
“The franchises have sponsors and for them, cricket still brings in some form of revenue,” an official familiar with the situation told ESPNcricinfo. “Without any televised games, they would have no product to sell. And all that would be left is for them to go cap in hand to CSA and ask for money all the time.”
CSA already provides financial assistance to the existing six franchises and 12 provinces, who struggle to generate their own profits but fear that a new 20-over tournament will crowd them out of the picture. With the U-19 team and South Africa A side already seen as more of a stepping stone to the national team than the franchise system, administrators are concerned that domestic cricket will be left to wither away. “There will be a concentration of control and money and power at national level, but domestic development will suffer,” the official said.
While CSA’s proposal acknowledged that, “none of our franchises will break-even financially without subsidies from CSA and the Members,” it used that as a reason to emphasise the need for a cost-effective GLT20. It acknowledged that the initial proposal, pushed by former CEO Haroon Lorgat, “over-focused on making money without testing how value was going to be created for all involved, attracting players, and providing playing opportunities.”
The Members’ Council’s reasons for rejecting the proposal are not yet known. Instead, the CSA board appointed a task team to come up with another new business model, but the board’s acting CEO is doubtful it will be able to come up with a satisfactory solution by the end of next month.
“I don’t think we have enough time to pull it off ” CSA’s acting CEO Thabang Moroe told journalists in Johannesburg last week. Unusually, the briefing was not open to all media and sidelined several mainstream publications. ESPNcricinfo contacted Moroe for comment, but he declined to do so.