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Knock ‘Global’ off to owning franchises, Cricket South Africa fret over T20 league

After South Africa’s ambitious Global T20 League collapsed last year after no broadcaster came on board, cricket officials are desperate to resurrect it

cricket Updated: Feb 21, 2018 21:52 IST
Khurram Habib
Khurram Habib
Hindustan Times, Centurion
India vs South Africa,South Africa vs India,Global T20 League
The T20 Global League was launched with much fanfare Launch at Bvlgari Hotel London on June 19, 2017.(Gallo Images)

While South Africa continue to hit one low after another in limited-overs cricket, its much talked-about Global T20 League is likely to see a meltdown even if it does take off this year. (India vs South Africa, 2nd T20 - Highlights)

The ambitious project was planned to rival the Indian Premier League with franchise owners coming from India, Pakistan and the UAE. However, it hit a roadblock late last year with no broadcaster willing to come on board, leading to the departure of Haroon Lorgat, architect of the league, as CEO.

As a result, the league has being whittled down. For starters, the Global tag may be removed as the new dispensation wants it to be a mainly South African league. The CSA may also not involve private owners and own franchises like Cricket Australia does in Big Bash League.

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Acting CEO, Thabang Moroe, said: “One of the questions we have asked the members is whether they want to keep the name Global. And if we really want to keep it, then what does ‘Global League’ means. How would they envisage us on delivering the Global League. There is a feeling this should be a South African league.”

Too ambitious

There is a feeling the league was too ambitious to begin with, especially by involving foreign owners.

South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) chairman, Tony Irish, also executive chairman of world players’ body, FICA, was involved in the negotiations for player remuneration. He said: “The project was too ambitious. The financial model was wrong as the revenues couldn’t match the expenses. There is talk over whether private owners should be done away with. Without private owners, you can manage with a smaller broadcast deal.”

Having private franchises requires a bigger broadcast deal as owners have to be promised revenue share at some point in future since they pay license fees, incur costs on the team.

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“The license fees were way too much. You have to ensure private owners break even,” said Irish.

The league’s failed launch cost CSA, which is in good financial health. Irish negotiated with the CSA for the players. All overseas players were given 50% of their contracted amount and local players 60%. The players had to be paid because they had to forego opportunities to play elsewhere, especially in the Bangladesh Premier League, whose dates clashed.

No clear plans

Though doubts have crept in over the league taking off this year as there seems to be no model, Moroe says it is in the works. A task team has been appointed but CSA is still discussing the league’s basic structure. The deadline for the presentation of a new model to the CSA board is March 31.

Moroe said: “There will be a change of strategy – 100%. It is to focus more on fans than on players. Already our focus is on players, we can’t continue doing that. We need fans. What is it that we can give fans, fan-related activities? We need to make it a fan-based league.”

Irish supported removing the ‘Global’ tag, but he feels they are running out of time. “Every major cricketing country has a league. It is important to have a league. But it needs to be planned well.”

First Published: Feb 21, 2018 21:45 IST