SuperSport pull out of CSA tournament talks

Broadcaster SuperSport has withdrawn from an equity partnership with Cricket South Africa, leaving the future of a new Twenty20 tournament in doubt again.

The T20 Global League was postponed to November 2018 after the controversial departure of former CSA CEO Haroon Lorgat. CSA then announced plans to partner with broadcaster SuperSport in a new-look, six-franchise competition.

The revamped version does not allow for private ownership, which the T20 Global League did, leaving franchise owners like the Pretoria Mavericks’ Hiren Bhanu, Durban Qalandars’ Sameen Rana, Nelson Mandela Bay Stars’ Ajay Sethi and others peeved.

SuperSport were going to have a 49 percent share in the competition, but have since revealed discussions for an agreement formally ended late last month. They, however, remain interested in broadcasting the tournament.

“We have used our best endeavours to reach consensus with CSA around that shareholding model, but this has unfortunately not happened,” said SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane.

“The discussions on the in-principle shareholding agreement terminated on 23 July 2018. We have therefore decided to discontinue negotiations about shareholding. We are engaged in constructive discussions with CSA regarding the broadcast of the event.”

Earlier this week, South African Minister for Sports Tokozile Xasa was asked to issue a moratorium which would prevent CSA from issuing any announcements about the tournament until the plans had been scrutinised by the parliamentary committee for sports and recreation.

The request for the moratorium was made by the country’s deputy shadow minister of sports and recreation Darren Bergman, who cited the risk of more financial losses as sufficient reason for parliament to seek assurance of the proposed launch of the tournament.

“While I do not believe that politicians should interfere in the running of sports and that we are best placed to play a supportive role, I am concerned that Cricket South Africa has the potential to risk major reputational and financial loss both to the sport as well as to the players and sponsors,” asserted Bergman.

“This could have a negative impact locally and internationally.”

Losses incurred by last year’s postponement have been estimated to be in the region of R220 million.