Has the bubble burst?
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.