The owners of Bloem City Blazers have accused Cricket South Africa of lying and setting personal agendas in the way it has cancelled the Global T20 League and established an alternative model.
A statement from Sushil Kumar – chairman of City Sports Ltd, the Hong-Kong based owners of Bloem City Blazers – says they are extremely unhappy with the way CSA has handled the matter and they have approached the Minister of Sport for help in resolving the issues. They are determined to remain part of the T20 set-up.
The statement said that in a meeting on 24 February, Kumar believed CSA board members were being fed false information with regard to the owners’ intentions. ‘The board was informed that all owners wanted out, thus, the model of private ownership was off the table. This was not true, and the undersigned reiterated the owners were committed to the Global League T20,’ said Kumar.
Bloem City Blazers have joined the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars and the Qalandars of Durban in criticising CSA for the arbitrary way they were dropped when the new league, co-owned by CSA and SuperSport, was announced.
Kumar adds that the way he has to keep pushing CSA for answers has become ’embarrassing’.
One week after his first meeting, says Kumar, ‘it was announced that CSA will open discussions with all team owners to renegotiate revised financial and operational terms. This reiterates Mr Ajay Sethi’s statement, owner of the Nelson Mandela Stars, that certain individuals had their own agendas and tried to manipulate the process.
‘During our latest visit in May 2018 to meet with CSA officials to sort out any clarifications they needed with regard to our deposits and the expenses, an email prior to my arrival was sent to the executive office seeking an audience which went un-responded. No one from CSA’s executive office was ready to meet or have the courtesy to speak with us and it was quite an embarrassment for us to keep pushing CSA just for an audience having travelled all the way from our home country, just to resolve issues which were never caused by us.’
He says the reality became clear after a teleconference meeting on 13 March where it was decided by all parties that CSA would go back to SuperSport to discuss: i) a proposal from SuperSport on the original model, ii) SuperSport suggesting an alternative model if not in favour of the original model or iii) look at a league co-owned between CSA, the owners and the broadcaster.
‘CSA then went behind the owners’ backs and struck a deal with SuperSport excluding the current owners and without providing any information on the deal. It was rather disappointing and very unprofessional that no one at CSA had the decency to contact us first and make us aware of the decision that was taken.
‘We are absolutely disgruntled at the way CSA had handled [or mishandled] its affairs with regard to the T20 Global League. The undersigned also led a delegation with their director of cricket Robin Singh on the invitation from the consul general of South Africa in Hong Kong and Macau. During this meeting, we expressed our disappointment to the Honourable Consul General Mr Ntshinga and Vice-Consul Mr Naidoo. We requested the Consulate to take up the issue with the Ministry of Sport in South Africa. Vested interests and personality clashes within the management of CSA is only affecting the reputation of the board. We will be actively following up through the Ministry of Sport and looking forward to an early resolve to this matter. We at Bloem City Blazers want to see the league up and running with the present interested owners.
‘We are also disappointed at the fact that Bloemfontein was our first-choice city and we had foreseen and planned a 12-month and a 10-year calendar for development of cricket at the grassroots level. We had also forged a fantastic relationship with the Free State Cricket officials and together made some serious advancements in getting things off the ground. We hope that all the hard work done by all of us during the last year should not go down the drain.’
In communication with ESPNcricinfo last week, CSA’s acting CEO Thabang Moroe said the organisation believed it was ‘in a partnership,’ with the former franchise owners and ‘would ideally like to retain the relationship in case there’s an opportunity in selling equity in teams.’
Responding to the Nelson Mandela Bay Stars’ statement on Wednesday morning, CSA said the board ‘does not intend to debate the matter through the media and as per our last letter to the owners remains available to any party who wishes to engage in the current process of planning the tournament. CSA indicated from the outset that the key revenue streams must first be secured regarding broadcasting rights and potential sponsors before details of the tournament can be finalised. Once that has taken place, engagement with other stakeholders will be possible.’
When the Bloem City Blazers’ statement came out, a CSA spokesperson said the organisation will ‘keep to the statement we sent earlier’.
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