Durban Qalandars owner wants to take CSA to court

Thabang Moroe (Gallo Images)
Thabang Moroe (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Cricket South Africa (CSA) has alienated Sameen Rana, the Pakistani businessperson who is the owner of the Durban Qalandars, that he would "love to take them to court".

Rana, whose consortium bought the franchise in last year's aborted T20 Global, is pursuing legal action reluctantly, but has no alternative, he says, because he's exhausted all other forms of redress.

"We met a CSA delegation in Dubai two weeks ago," he said. "Where I was given the impression that they found my concerns legitimate. They asked for a 10-day window to go back to their board, but when they sent all owners a letter earlier this week, there was no mention of what I said to them, so I just don't know what they are thinking.

"The pity is that CSA just (doesn't) seem to be able to see beyond the tip of (its) nose."

Rana believes he still owns the rights to a team who were about to play in a tournament CSA dissolved without the owners' consent. He has never accepted the deposit CSA offered him (and returned to other owners), and maintains that CSA is incapable of listening to his concerns.

"I trust the legal system in South Africa," he said. "CSA cannot just take my rights away from me unilaterally. I have a legitimate legal claim. They gave me the right to a team in perpetuity."

As Rana sees it, the firm of attorneys he has contracted has three legal alternatives - it might sue for the right to reinstate the tournament in its original form, it might stop the yet-to-be-named upcoming tournament via interdict and it might sue the directors of the Pty entity CSA formed to run the tournament in their individual capacity.

"I haven't put pressure on my attorneys because I want them to reach the correct decision," Rana said on Friday afternoon. "One alternative might be to sue Thabang (Moroe) and Louis (von Zeuner) in their individual capacity because they were appointed to run the tournament."

Rana's legal thrust comes at a time when CSA has suffered significant reputational damage across a broad front in the past couple of weeks. After a 10-day media blackout, it moved to calm the cricket-loving public with a lengthy press release on Friday afternoon, during which it was at pains to point out that it did not have to run a T20 league this year to ensure financial sustainability.

"CSA prides itself on the standards of governance (it) applied over the past few years and will continue to maintain those standards," said chief executive Moroe.

While CSA's claim that it has upheld governance standards around the collapse of last year's tournament and its subsequent firing of former chief executive Haroon Lorgat is moot, of more immediate importance is the status of this year's T20 tournament.

In early June, CSA announced that it was entering into an equity partnership with SuperSport to form a third entity, which would run this year's edition of the tournament. By this month, however, SuperSport had walked away, its chief executive, Gideon Khobane, saying on Tuesday that, although the parties sought consensus on the shareholding model, "this has unfortunately not happened".

According to one source in the know, CSA and SuperSport locked horns over what equity in the equity partnership was worth. The broadcaster was quite prepared to pay for rights, but baulked at being asked to pay more for equity. This, however, is speculation, with Khobane offering few details on the breakdown in SuperSport's announcement earlier this week.

With the future of the league a moving target, there are many in the cricket community locally and internationally who believe it is unlikely to take place this year. The venue announcement meant to take place on Friday didn't happen, and although CSA's press release drew attention to four prospective sponsors, the current tournament has neither a headline sponsor nor a broadcaster.

READ: CSA sets mid-September deadline for T20 League decision

One former owner went further, saying he believed Friday's press release was a means of paving the way for a second postponement, although this would presumably expose CSA to legal action from the Players' Association for loss of potential earnings.

The former owner's disquiet was added to by another voice - that of a well-respected cricket insider - who said: "What you've got with this tournament now is a glorified Ram Slam, which means we are in an even worse position than we were when this all started 18 months ago."

He added: "It's very difficult to unscramble scrambled eggs. I think that's where we're at now."

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