Has the bub­ble burst?

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What was it?

South Africa’s Global T20 League was of­fi­cial un­veiled in Fe­bru­ary with Cricket South Africa invit­ing bids for eight teams to con­test the tour­na­ment sched­uled to be held be­tween Novem­ber and De­cem­ber.

Un­like the IPL, the Global League was unique in that it openly courted for­eign own­er­ship of the fran­chises.

Chris Nen­zani (above), CSA pres­i­dent said at the time: “Our vi­sion is to drive the cre­ation of a new #T20 des­ti­na­tion league in South Africa that would en­er­gise the sport of cricket in South Africa by cre­at­ing a global plat­form for the best-in-class to per­form and show­case their tal­ent to a global au­di­ence.”

In March, the CSA claimed in­ter­est from more than 150 par­ties re­gard­ing own­er­ship be­fore the eight fran­chises were con­firmed in June: Benoni Zalmi, Bloem City Blaz­ers, Cape Town Knight Rid­ers, Dur­ban Qa­lan­dars, Jo’burg Giants, Nel­son Man­dela Bay Stars, Pre­to­ria Mav­er­icks and Stel­len­bosch Kings.

Who was in­volved?

Own­ers ranged from Bol­ly­wood icons such as Shah Rukh Khan and Pre­ity Zinta (right), who also own IPL fran­chises, to Pak­istani en­trepeneur Javed Afridi, who owns Pe­shawar Zalmi in the PSL and Dubai- based busi­ness­man Ajay Sethi.

Former South Africa cap­tain Graeme Smith, all-rounder Jacques Kal­lis and ex-New Zealand skip­per Stephen Flem­ing were among the eight cap­tains se­lected.

Teams were given squads of 18 play­ers with one lead­ing South African in­ter­na­tional as a ‘mar­quee player’ and room for up to five for­eign play­ers, with a player draft held in late Au­gust.

Where did it all go wrong?

Alarm bells were ring­ing when CSA CEO Ha­roon Lor­gat (right) stepped down last month. The tour­na­ment was his brain­child and re­ports claim once he left it be­came a rud­der­less ship.

De­spite CSA’s ini­tial boasts in the sum­mer the lack of a cen­tral spon­sor­ship part­ner(s) plus a broad­cast deal meant that rev­enues sim­ply weren’t go­ing to match the sig­nif­i­cant ex­pen­di­ture put aside for the first edi­tion. Su­perS­port had an of­fer on the ta­ble but it was well be­low what CSA wanted.

Nen­zani ad­mit­ted last week that they were fore­cast­ing net losses of $25m for the first sea­son which would eat into around half of their cash re­serves.

Ul­ti­mately, from a busi­ness point of view it was not vi­able with struc­tural and or­gan­i­sa­tional is­sues be­hind the scenes also prov­ing prob­lem­atic.

What hap­pens next?

CSA must be brac­ing them­selves for some se­ri­ous com­pen­sa­tion claims from play­ers who may have turned down of­fers from out­side South Africa – the Bangladesh Premier League as one ex­am­ple. The BPL could reap the ben­e­fits with play­ers now free to com­pete in that league.

That’s in the short-term, be­yond that how com­mit­ted the eight own­ers are to a failed project is un­clear as there are no guar­an­tees the is­sues that post­poned this year will be re­solved by 2018.

South African cricket also has a ma­jor hole in its cal­en­dar with no in­ter­na­tional or top-level do­mes­tic cricket be­tween Oc­to­ber 29 and the first Test against Zim­babwe which starts De­cem­ber 26.

In a wider sense, this will raise con­cern over the world – par­tic­u­larly in Eng­land with their own city-based league sched­uled for 2020 – that the bub­ble for T20 fran­chise cricket has ex­panded as far as it can.

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