Cricket South Africa’s (CSA) apparent attempts to defuse the growing anger of some of their T20 franchise owners have backfired.
Instead of being placated about their position‚ the owners are seemingly more intent than ever on dragging what remains of their relationship with the board through the legal system.
SowetanLIVE understands that CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe‚ acting chief operating officer Naasei Appiah and independent directors Louis von Zeuner and Iqbal Khan met with the owners of six of the eight T20 Global League (T20GL) franchises in Dubai and Mumbai last week.
Sources who were present at one of the meetings described the atmosphere as “fiery” and said there was “big sh*t happening”. They said CSA’s representatives were “speechless” at the owners’ stance and that the latter had been left with “no option but [to go to] court”.
Asked what the purpose of the meetings was and what way forward they proposed to resolve the growing dispute‚ or were willing to fight a legal battle‚ CSA offered little.
“Unfortunately there will be no comment from CSA regarding these matters as the chief executive has not met with the board‚” a spokesperson said on Monday.
“Once he has CSA will assess what the feedback is from them [the owners] and communicate through our media channels.”
The spokesperson said Moroe was due back in South Africa on Monday night and would likely talk to the board later this week.
A statement from Nelson Mandela Bay Stars owner Ajay Sethi issued “on behalf of the owners” said “it is clear that CSA are not committed to fulfilling their side of the deal with the bona fide T20GL owners”.
The board‚ Sethi wrote‚ had “no interest” in staging the tournament “in its original format”.
“[CSA] have continuously changed their position and have shown to have no interest in working with the current T20GL owners‚” the statement said.
“We now strongly feel they don’t wish to fulfill their commitment towards the owners. The owners have no option but to go the legal route and consider all legal options to protect our interests.
“All owners were awarded perpetual ownerships of teams. All owners fulfilled their obligations. The T20GL was postponed without keeping owners fully in the loop.
“We are extremely disappointed and angered by the unethical behavior demonstrated by the leadership of CSA.”
Last week’s meetings are the latest twist in a saga that took its first public wrong turn in October‚ when CSA postponed the inaugural edition of the T20GL because it would‚ they said‚ have cost millions in losses.
CSA have since refunded the owners their deposits and said in June they had entered into an equity partnership with SuperSport for a new competition‚ which is set to be launched this summer.
In what sounds suspiciously like CSA’s existing domestic franchise T20 competition‚ the league could involve six teams and be scaled back from the extravaganza that was promised last year.
But the T20GL owners are adamant they have a right to be part of the venture and have threatened legal action.
Sources say the owners want‚ collectively‚ a 49% stake in the competition and for CSA to back out of their deal with SuperSport.
It seems the owners kept their lawyers leashed pending the outcome of last week’s meetings.
The owners’ patience‚ it appears‚ has run out.