Cricket SA (CSA) is in talks with a mysterious global brand after gatvol Proteas sponsor Standard Bank followed through on its notification in December that it was not going to renew the contract this week.
As confirmation of the expiry filtered through in the form of CSA this week thanking Standard Bank for its patronage over the past four years, acting chief executive Jacques Faul said CSA was in discussions with an international brand and a few other local companies with a view to filling the gap.
“We are talking to a global brand, which is quite exciting,” said Faul.
“But I’m not sure we can expect anyone to put a significant long-term commitment in now [with the Covid-19 coronavirus outbreak]. We’ve got some options, which is encouraging.
“The sponsorship world will be on pause a bit for now, but we are talking to people and there is some interest. But everybody wants to see how this pans out first.”
The other options Faul was referring to are believed to be one of the existing partners, which include Momentum and KFC, wanting to step up its commercial offering by taking on responsibility for the R73 million-sized hole Standard Bank’s departure left in CSA’s annual budget.
An administrative meltdown – which led to CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe’s suspension and some of his board members’ resignations late last year – was the reason Standard Bank decided to call time early on its most recent relationship.
At the time, the bank released a statement declaring: “Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance.
In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership with CSA.”
Although Standard Bank had telegraphed its intentions on December 6, there was hope in cricket that it could be persuaded to change its mind before the expiration of its contract on Thursday.
Faul speculated that other factors may have contributed to the sponsor sticking to its word.
“They’re in the best position to comment, but I would imagine it’s more than one thing. Times are tough out there, sponsorship-wise.”
With the Covid-19 pandemic having forced sponsors – who suddenly find themselves paying for content that is not there – to reconsider how much money they’re willing to commit to sponsoring sport, the question is how concrete CSA’s current negotiations are likely to prove.
“The best way to describe it is that it’s not a yes or a no, it’s more a case of they can’t tell us now. But the Proteas have always been good property and we’ve always got good money and very good sponsors for them,” Faul said.
“I don’t think it’ll change much as a product, but the environment has, so you can’t really blame people [for being reluctant to commit]. But it’s encouraging that people are still talking to us about the Proteas’ sponsorship and are considering it, because the sponsorship world is on pause at the moment.”
Asked if Standard Bank’s replacement would be encouraged to also take over grassroots cricket in the form of the regional performance centres, Faul said it would depend entirely on the new sponsor.
“When I started 17 years ago, we used to package an offering and look for a fit. Now we just look for someone that wants to partner and then we tailor it. The environment has changed in such a way that your sponsor indicates what they want from the relationship.”
An industry insider said the Proteas were a massively watched team that drew different audiences through the three formats it played, and, because of the markets it played to – which included India, England and Australia – it was more of a global business than a local one.
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