Cricket SA rejects $70m deal for T20 league, but won’t say why
A UK-based Indian businessman offered to run the CSA’s T20 league for 11 years; he was not allowed to present the deal in person, and is mystified why it wasn’t taken up
Not only did Cricket SA (CSA) reject an offer to earn $70m for 11 years from their troubled T20 league‚ they didn’t say why. Instead‚ CSA is trying to re-invent the competition and have acquired SuperSport as a minority shareholder in that cause.
No other details on the new tournament — which was to have been played last November and December and was postponed for a year when CSA discovered it would lose millions because of the lack of a broadcaster and sponsors — have been revealed.
This as four of the eight owners of the original franchises have expressed their unhappiness with the board’s handling of the situation‚ three of them threatening legal action.
One of those owners‚ Hiren Bhanu of the Pretoria Mavericks‚ told TimesLIVE he proposed paying CSA $70m — the equivalent‚ at Tuesday’s exchange rate‚ of more than R926m — to own and run the league for 11 years. CSA would thus bear none of the financial risks.
Bhanu‚ a UK-based Indian businessman‚ made his offer in March‚ and says communication he had with board members and executives indicated it would be positively received. But he says he was never given the chance to make a presentation to the board in person.
In June, he received a letter‚ which has been seen by TimesLIVE‚ from CSA’s then acting CEO‚ Thabang Moroe.
"The CSA board and its members’ council has considered your proposal to privatise the league for a definite period in exchange for a guaranteed fee to CSA‚" Moroe wrote. "All the proposals that were received were compelling and well-presented‚ including yours‚ unfortunately they were not favourably considered."
Since then‚ Bhanu says‚ "I have yet to be given a reason why." Asked directly on Monday why Bhanu had been turned down‚ CSA reiterated what was already known instead of answering the question.
"CSA has, in writing, thanked all prospective buyers for their interest in the league and have also communicated their decision in selecting the [SuperSport] equity model‚" the board’s statement read.
Bhanu became involved with the league after it emerged that Osman Osman‚ who had been named as the Mavericks’ owner‚ did not have the $50m required to own a franchise for 10 years‚ as per the competition’s original rules. Haroon Lorgat and Venu Nair‚ Bhanu says‚ asked him to step into the breach.
Lorgat has lost his job as CSA’s CEO in the fallout from the failure of the tournament’s inaugural edition‚ and it seems CSA has cut ties with Nair‚ whose newly formed company‚ Ortus Sport and Entertainment‚ had been tasked with selling the rights for the tournament
Osman has retained a small share in the Mavericks.
CSA has refunded the owners’ deposits of $250,000‚ but with only 3.5% interest‚ and are trying to sell the competition as a new event, but half the owners insist they have not given up their rights to a franchise.