Despite an encouraging start to a T20 league that had a better chance of not seeing the light of day than happening this weekend, Cricket SA (CSA) looks set to bleed more money into a competition that has wreaked havoc on its finances.
As the Mzansi Super League (MSL) got off to a competitive and entertaining opening game between the Cape Town Blitz and the Tshwane Spartans on Friday, CSA appeared still to be in the throes of extricating itself from deals struck ahead of the failed Global T20.
An industry insider claimed that Ortus, the company contracted to source broadcast rights and sponsorship funding for the Global T20, was locked in negotiations to be paid out the remainder of the three-year contract for which it was signed.
According to our source, Ortus had been paid half of the $3 million (R42 million) it had been contracted for when it became apparent the Global T20 wouldn’t go ahead.
The need for negotiations arose from it wanting to be paid the remainder of the money.
When spokesperson Koketso Gaofetoge was asked if it was true that CSA was in settlement negotiations for the remaining R21 million, he said: “The two parties have come to an agreement and that matter is being handled by our legal team.”
Ortus declined to comment.
If the settlement agreement is for R21 million, it would be more money lost on a tournament that is reported to have cost CSA R200 million before a ball was bowled, with cricket’s governing body having budgeted for a further R40 million loss for year one of the MSL.
And, while the email inbox has hummed with MSL news ranging from sponsorship and partnership bits and pieces to independent director Louis von Zeuner – who has been heavily involved in settling with the Global T20 owners – standing down, a local official claimed that Sony Pictures, FreeSports and Flow Sports had, like the tournament’s broadcaster SABC, not paid to show the competition.
CSA announced that Sony would broadcast the MSL in India, FreeSports in the UK and Flow Sport in the Caribbean, but it appears it wasn’t a case of the SABC on-selling the rights as one would expect in deals like these.
Rather, Gaofetoge said Global Sports Commerce (GSC), an Indian company known for specialising in LED advertising boards and screens and which has been roped in as Ortus’ replacement, has paid CSA for the broadcast rights being passed on to those three broadcasters.
Another industry insider claimed that GSC brokering sponsorships and selling broadcast rights was not its expertise and it “knew nothing about the market”.
All told, it appears the mistakes made in trying to start the Global T20 will continue to burn a hole in CSA’s budget, what with rumours that at least two owners are lying in wait to ambush it with lawsuits for damages due to it being unceremoniously dumped.
This is made worse because CSA seems to be the only one who will be paying for the MSL to go ahead.
Ordinarily, a governing body gets its money from selling franchises, a headline sponsor and broadcast rights.
Having centralised the franchises, failing to obtain a headline sponsor or sell the broadcast rights to the SABC, CSA is footing the bill for pretty much the whole thing.
Which is a pity because the MSL could be a vibrant competition broadcast to a relatively new and eager market.