Doubt persists over T20 Global League’s future

The future of South Africa’s T20 Global League (GLT20) is likely to be decided on at a Cricket South Africa board meeting, which started in Durban on Friday, and some consideration will be given to scrapping the tournament entirely. The 20-overs competition was postponed in October after CSA predicted losses of US$25 million, but the board promised to deliver the event in 2018. CSA have since tasked several employees with researching and presenting new business models for the tournament, which will be considered at the meeting, but ESPNcricinfo has learned that a proposal to dump the idea completely will also be mooted.

The T20 Global League was conceptualised as South Africa’s own version of a twenty-over “Premier League” but faced several problems from the start. Chief among them was the inability to secure a broadcaster and title sponsor, which eventually resulted in the first season being stillborn. None of the eight team owners, of which three were affiliated with IPL teams, two PSL teams and only one was South African, signed agreements with CSA. Though some issued statements at the time of the postponement confirming their commitment to the tournament, CSA has been forced to go back to the drawing board when rethinking the event.

One suggestion has been to build on the existing six-team domestic franchise structure rather than seek to create new teams; another is to do away with private ownership of teams and for CSA to own the tournament as a whole. But a third is to abandon the idea completely, especially because CSA has yet to find the ideal time for such an event to take place. Currently, the window is set for November-December, which is when both India and Australia have home seasons, making CSA’s desire to secure Indian players more wishful than realistic. South Africa have also had to move some of their own international fixtures – an ODI series in Australia scheduled for November 2018 has been moved – and home Tests will have to be played earlier than usual in order to create room for the GLT20.

But if the GLT20 fails to see the light of day, the main reason will be money. CSA have already lost more than US$14 million from their first attempt to stage the tournament. The bulk of that money was paid out to players, who had signed contracts after a draft. South African players received 60% of their contract fee, foreign players were paid 50%, while the rest of the money was spent on an extravagant London launch and marketing. Stadium upgrades, which amount to R350 million (US$25 million) over five years have not been included in the losses.

While the GLT20 will headline the board meeting, CSA may also make a decision on the permanent future of the CEO’s position, which has been vacant since Haroon Lorgat parted ways with the organisation in September. Thabang Moroe, the former vice-president under Lorgat, has been in an acting capacity since Lorgat’s departure four months ago. Late last year, when Moroe and CSA President Chris Nenzani addressed the media, they said they were in no rush to appoint a CEO, neither were they scrambling to settle on a payout figure for Lorgat but, as time passes, the need for both issues to be resolved becomes more pressing.

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