EXCLUSIVE | Cricket SA ropes in Betway as new sponsor but Proteas void still felt

Jacques Faul during a CSA media briefing at Newlands Cricket Ground on 14 December 2019.
Jacques Faul during a CSA media briefing at Newlands Cricket Ground on 14 December 2019.
Bertram Malgas/Gallo Images
  • Cricket SA has brought in Betway as a Test and ODI series sponsor but there's still no sign of flagship Proteas' men's team title sponsor.
  • Standard Bank ended its association with the Proteas when the four-year term ended in April, leaving CSA with R100 million-sized hole in its bank account.
  • Betway first joined cricket during the inaugural Mzansi Super League competition in 2018 and has extended its involvement this year.

Cricket South Africa (CSA) has signed with Betway as its new Test and One Day International (ODI) series sponsor but has so far not filled the gaping void left by former Proteas men's team sponsor, Standard Bank, Sport24 can reveal.

Although it's still unclear when the Proteas will host their next opponents, due to the impact of Covid-19, CSA secured a three-year Test and ODI series sponsorship with betting brand Betway, which was previously held by Sunfoil (Tests) and Momentum (ODIs).

Betway marketing manager David Rachidi confirmed to Sport24 that the deal was signed in the last two weeks.

"It's a recent signing; less than two weeks or so," said Rachidi.

Betway first dipped its toes into cricket by sponsoring the inaugural Mzansi Super League competition in 2018 and renewed its deal the following year. It appears that the sports betting company has been pleased with its involvement in cricket by extending its reach into future in-bound tours.

"It's a continuation of our partnership with Cricket South Africa and it's something that's been on our radar for quite some time," Rachidi said.

"I can definitely say we're quite excited to be continuing with that partnership with cricket as a whole. We are now in a new norm for every sector and industry.

"The betting industry felt the pinch because a huge part of our content sits within live sport taking place, so we've had to tweak our business to look at alternative platforms and markets we can put forward to consumers.

"But with the slow return of sport every week, that’s been a plus for us."

Rachidi said the company, which has had a strong foothold in soccer, was not dissuaded from pursuing its partnership with CSA despite the public relations dramas that have taken place at Rosebank.

"From our end, we looked at their year plan and the strategy CSA have in place for the next coming years and we can definitely see growth in the cricket space," he said.

Acting CSA CEO Jacques Faul revealed to parliament that the governing body expected to make between R50 million and R80 million profit for the 2019/20 financial year.

CSA has taken a public battering in the past six months, with events relating to suspended CEO Thabang Moroe leading to the Proteas' flagship sponsor Standard Bank opting out of renewing its deal which ended in April this year.

The bank left CSA with a gaping hole believed to be in the region of R100 million per year over four years, which the current executive is scrambling to fill amidst tough economic conditions and shrinking marketing budgets.

"Proteas matches make up the bulk of our money; we sell that to a broadcaster and we also sell sponsorship packages," Faul told parliament during their briefing with its sports portfolio committee.

"Sponsorship packages don't just relate to your home matches and our biggest concern is that we don't have a team sponsor for the Proteas.

"Sponsorship has been put on pause all over the world. There’s not a lot of people that do sponsorship deals at this time and there’s a low level of predictability.

"The fact that we have signed an international sponsor for a substantial amount will help us."

Although one of its main sponsors Momentum was heavily critical of the goings on at CSA in December, when journalists were barred from matches and senior officials getting suspended left, right and centre, it remained within the sponsorship roster as the Proteas Women's team title sponsor.

Like Standard Bank, Momentum wrote to CSA demanding the board be held accountable for the malaise and for the interim CEO, Faul, and new director of cricket Graeme Smith to swiftly remedy the situation.

Faul said the signing of a new sponsor, Proteas performances and projected profits in upcoming financial results would aid the shattered public image cricket suffered since December.

"Our business process started off with an audit and it did not look good for us in December 2019," said Faul.

"We had to take a serious look in the mirror. Standard Bank withdrew as a sponsor and Momentum were very critical of our governance.

"We had to address this. I think the Proteas on the field had mixed success but it ended quite well with a 50-over series win over Australia.

"I think the fact that this financial year we’ll make a profit, it will help us [with issues] that’s reflected negatively in the past.

"We also need winning on the field, which is important for any sports organisation."

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