Cricket South Africa’s sponsorship problems took another downward turn when Sunfoil, headline backers of Tests and the domestic first-class competitions, decided to pull the plug.
This leaves the domestic competitions, particularly, in disarray, coming as it does after Ram Couriers ended their association with the Ram Slam T20 series.
Only the 50-over format continues to be sponsored, by financial services company Momentum.
Sunfoil – the sponsors of Test cricket and the franchise four-day and provincial three-day competitions – said in a statement they have opted not to renew its deal with CSA at the end of the 2017-18 summer, ending a relationship which lasted seven years.
Willowton Group said they will maintain the Sunfoil Education Trust and are involved in discussions with CSA on other grassroots development opportunities.
A CSA spokesperson, however, said the organisation was at ‘an advanced stage in negotiations with a replacement’ and was confident it could conclude an arrangement soon.
Ram re-signed for the 2017-18 season, when the tournament was shoe-horned into the slots allocated to the aborted Global League T20, being enticed back after pulling out of a deal with CSA in 2016.
The franchise T20 tournament will be played from 5 April to 5 May 2019, clashing with the IPL.
This comes as CSA is desperately fighting to keep alive its hopes of a ‘world-class’ T20 series, which has hit the wall under threat of litigation by Global T20 franchise holders and the withdrawal of a major shareholder, SuperSport.
The organisation said it will make a final decision on the viability of a T20 league by mid-September.
CSA’s chief executive Thabang Moroe took an upbeat view, saying that ‘as much as we believe in the product, we do not have to host a T20 league to assure financial sustainability.
‘The game of cricket in SA is in a healthy state, as demonstrated by the growth in cricket development at grassroots levels, a healthy pipeline of young future talent, as well as women’s cricket that has progressed with leaps and bounds.’
The added drain on revenue to sustain the domestic game will not help.
CSA has announced its domestic fixtures, saying ‘the four-day franchise competition’ will be split into two sections from September to November and again in December and January.
The franchise T20 Challenge will be played in April and May.
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