Two months after Cricket South Africa announced the ‘biggest deal in SA cricket history’, linking SuperSport to a ‘global’ T20 league, the broadcaster has pulled out.
Just one month ago, the chief executive of CSA, Thabang Moroe, announced that the final details of the deal were being tied up.
Now SuperSport has announced that it would not pursue the equity deal with Cricket South Africa which was to replace the disastrous Global T20 League, abandoned last year at huge cost to the cricket body.
What was billed as the new, fantastic, rival to the IPL and BBL, which was to be shared between CSA and SuperSport, is due to launch in November.
‘We reached an in-principle agreement with CSA regarding co-ownership of this event in June this year,’ said SuperSport CEO Gideon Khobane. ‘We have used our best endeavours to reach consensus with CSA around that shareholding model, but this has unfortunately not happened.
‘We have therefore decided to discontinue negotiations about shareholding. We are, however, engaged in constructive discussions with CSA regarding the broadcast of the event,’ said Khobane.
Cricket South Africa is facing a raft of litigation from the original owners of Global T20 franchises, who felt ignored and alienated by the high-handed attitude of CSA. Several refused to accept their deposits after the Global T20 was abandoned and they maintained their rights to the ownership of franchises in any T2o league.
Perversely, the decision by SuperSport to pull out of an equity deal would allow CSA to reopen negotiations with the franchise owners to come back on board.
After an appeasement tour to meet franchise owners, Hiren Bhanu, owner of the Pretoria Mavericks said CSA had revealed that the deal with SuperSport was ‘not finalised, has not been signed and no terms are agreed.’
But time is running out. Not only would franchises have to come back on board in an atmosphere of distrust, but high-quality marquee players would have to be signed on short notice.