Cricket South Africa is being sued for over half a million dollars by one of the franchise owners of the defunct T20 Global League. Hiren Bhanu, owner of the Pretoria Mavericks, is claiming damages of USD 515,627.91 plus interest and costs of the suit from CSA.
Legal documents accessed by ESPNcricinfo provide detail on that total, with Bhanu claiming he has spent USD 81,247.76 on marketing, USD 68,538.68 on legal fees, USD 107,216.81 on salaries and wages and USD 103,754.22 on travel as well as various other expenses. At the end of June, CSA paid Bhanu USD 179,989.00 as compensation for the initial deposit made towards securing a GLT20 team license and that amount is taken into account in the legal claim.
“We’re going to sue them for damages for the efforts that we put in,” Bhanu confirmed to ESPNcricinfo before launching legal action. “Some people were paid their expenses, and they are happy with that. I’m not happy with that. We just want to be compensated for our time and effort.”
The GLT20, CSA’s initial foray into franchise T20 cricket, was the brainchild of former chief executive Haroon Lorgat, and was supposed to have taken place this time last year, but was postponed by CSA. Lorgat lost his position shortly after the postponement, partly as a result of the breakdown in relationships around the GLT20 debacle, and in September 2018 CSA’s members board voted to go ahead with a re-structured league. Weeks later, CSA announced that it would be the owner of the teams in the new league, re-named the Mzansi Super League (MSL), leaving the GLT20 franchise owners disgruntled.
When asked about the status of any potential legal wrangling ahead of the start of the MSL, Thabang Moroe, CSA’s chief executive, had told ESPNcricinfo: “We have a legal team tasked with dealing with those matters.”
CSA appears to have been caught unawares by the latest legal claim, however. “We’re not aware of his decision to sue us,” a CSA spokesperson told ESPNcricinfo on Saturday. “Once something official comes our way we’ll then be able to make a comment.”
The particulars of the legal claim rest on written and verbal agreements between the parties in August 2017 relating to Bhanu’s company, Hermis Sports Ventures Limited, being granted a license to operate a team in the T20 Global League. The suit claims that CSA refused to fulfill the agreements. The informed opinion seems to be that the legal wrangling could revolve around the terms of the original contract that the owners signed with CSA – what was warrantied by CSA, and what was not.
Bhanu is being represented by Bowman Gilfillan, a law firm based in Sandton, Johannesburg, with offices elsewhere in Africa, and known as one of the so-called “Big Five” law firms in South Africa. CSA, meanwhile, this year switched to the firm Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs, who are also legal big hitters and one of the Big Five.