T20 Global League loss is a shocker for South Africa

The Cricket Paper - - FRONT PAGE -

The col­lapse of South Africa’s much-trum­peted T20 Global League has left a trail of bro­ken prom­ises and shat­tered dreams, a pile of debt and scorched cred­i­bil­ity. And that is the good news. Worse may be to come whether or not the league is ac­tu­ally launched in 12 months’ time, as planned.

Start with the play­ers. There were 180 of them con­firmed at the draft six weeks ago – 18 per fran­chise with a pre-set salary cap of $900,000 (£685,000) not in­clud­ing the in­ter­na­tional ‘mar­quee play­ers’ which in­cluded Ja­son Roy and Kevin Pi­etersen at fees of between £150,000 and £185,000.

Bren­don McCul­lum is known to have de­clined a sub­stan­tial of­fer to play in the Bangladesh Premier League in or­der to play for the Jo’burg Gi­ants in the Global League. Dwayne Bravo, Kieron Pol­lard and Chris Gayle were in a sim­i­lar po­si­tion. They are un­likely to agree to un­paid gar­den­ing leave for six weeks hav­ing ded­i­cated the fi­nal years of their ca­reers to mak­ing as much cash as pos­si­ble.

But it is the South African play­ers fur­ther down the peck­ing or­der who will suf­fer most. The value of the low­est con­tract, 18th place in the squad, was £7,500, as many rand as a young player would re­ceive in a whole sea­son and enough to put down a de­posit on a small apart­ment. For the play­ers fur­ther up the draft, those with con­tracts worth between £37,500 and £75,000, the ex­tra in­come would have been life-chang­ing.

Need­less to say, some play­ers had al­ready com­mit­ted them­selves fi­nan­cially on the ba­sis of their new fran­chise con­tract.

“A year is a long time in cricket,” said an ex­hausted SA Crick­eters As­so­ci­a­tion chief ex­ec­u­tive, Tony Ir­ish, who is also the ex­ec­u­tive chair­man of the In­ter­na­tional Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion (FICA). “Who knows which play­ers will be around next year and which con­tracts will still be ap­pli­ca­ble or rel­e­vant. It is a dis­as­ter and it will take a very long time to sort out,” Ir­ish said. He has been un­able to an­swer his phone be­cause it hasn’t stopped ring­ing. If ev­ery player was to be paid out in full, the bill would be around £6.85m. Add in the coaches and other ad­min­is­tra­tive staff who were em­ployed and the num­ber goes well past £7.5m.

The eight sta­di­ums at which the teams were to be based were also promised gen­er­ous ren­tal pay­ments and there are out­stand­ing con­tracts with sup­pli­ers, de­posits paid for travel and ac­com­mo­da­tion, the in­stal­la­tion of new flood­lights in Bloem­fontein and Port El­iz­a­beth… no­body has even com­piled the full list yet.

Those seek­ing com­pen­sa­tion will be join­ing a very long queue.

Other English play­ers signed up in­cluded Chris Jor­dan, Adil Rashid, Tom Cur­ran and Sam Billings. James Vince and Steve Finn were also signed be­fore their Ashes se­lec­tion while Alex Hales and Cricket South Africa (CSA) will no longer have to grap­ple with the tick­lish ques­tion of his par­tic­i­pa­tion for the Cape Town Knight Rid­ers.

The League was the vi­sion of for­mer CSA chief ex­ec­u­tive, Ha­roon Lor­gat, who left the or­gan­i­sa­tion by “mu­tual con­sent” (he was sacked) three weeks ago. He ap­pears to have built the fi­nan­cial model for the tour­na­ment in part­ner­ship with Venu Nair whose com­pany, Or­tus Sports, was only reg­is­tered in April this year. He held the sole con­tract to sell the broad­cast rights and ti­tle spon­sor­ships. The CSA board of di­rec­tors claim they were kept in the

For a long time we asked for de­tails and didn’t get them. Even when some of us smelled a rat we didn’t act soon enough

dark by Lor­gat and Nair for six months while de­tails were be­ing fi­nalised. Lor­gat claims he al­ways had the board’s ap­proval. Both may be cor­rect.

“For a long time we asked for de­tails and didn’t get them, but we didn’t force the is­sue be­cause Ha­roon has done good work for CSA for many years. Even when some of us thought we smelled a rat we didn’t act soon enough,” one board mem­ber told The Cricket Pa­per.

Lor­gat and Nair played a high-stakes game of bluff and chicken with lo­cal broad­caster Su­pers­port which owns all the rights to do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional cricket in SA. Orig­i­nally, Su­pers­port claimed au­to­matic own­er­ship of the Global League rights un­der their ex­ist­ing um­brella agree­ment.

Lor­gat dis­missed the claim with con­tempt. Lor­gat and Nair wanted around £22.5m, Su­pers­port of­fered a max­i­mum of £4.5m. Nair and Lor­gat walked out of the first meet­ing, Su­pers­port walked out of two sub­se­quent ones.

Tele­vi­sion pro­duc­tion and sta­dium host­ing costs would have all but wiped out CSA’s fi­nan­cial re­serves if they had at­tempted to go it alone this year. They even flew to Lon­don last week in a des­per­ate, last-ditch at­tempt to in­ter­est Sky hav­ing drawn a blank with Sony and Star in In­dia. In the end they were faced with three choices: go ahead and risk bankruptcy; post­pone and ei­ther pay or pray for le­niency when the claims start ar­riv­ing; or can­cel it com­pletely.

One up­shot is that the de­sire of many play­ers to move north has been rekin­dled. CSA had two goals for the league – the first was to cre­ate an in­come stream which would re­duce or even elim­i­nate their re­liance on in­come from in­com­ing bi­lat­eral se­ries, prin­ci­pally In­dia and Aus­tralia. Se­condly, to re­tain the best play­ers and stop them seek­ing play­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties or even ca­reers in Eng­land. With just one more sea­son to go un­til Brexit, the col­lapse of the Global League could lead to a stam­pede for Kol­pak deals.

Lor­gat’s aims for the Global League were over-am­bi­tious in the ex­treme and, un­like ev­ery other do­mes­tic T20 tour­na­ment, in­clud­ing the IPL which took three years to break even, he ap­pears to have un­der­es­ti­mated the im­por­tance of prov­ing the prod­uct to be ro­bust and good value.

He wanted to skip straight to the part where ev­ery­body is rich. If only life worked like that.

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

Back in his home­land: But Kevin Pi­etersen will not be woo­ing the crowds at the T20 Global League

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