Cricketers’ Association blow lid off Cricket SA suspension mystery

SA Cricketers' Association say it is "surprised" at Cricket South Africa's suspension of three senior manager. Pictured is Cricket SA's chief executive Thabang Moroe.
SA Cricketers' Association say it is "surprised" at Cricket South Africa's suspension of three senior manager. Pictured is Cricket SA's chief executive Thabang Moroe.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) say Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executive Thabang Moroe was central to the agreement allowing the use of the players’ commercial rights for last year’s inaugural Mzansi Super League (MSL).

So why did CSA say in a release on Wednesday‚ “The board and management [of CSA] has recently become aware of an unfortunate situation involving players and player contracts”?

That was CSA’s explanation for Tuesday’s news‚ broken by TimesLIVE‚ that interim director of cricket Corrie van Zyl‚ sponsor and sales head Clive Eksteen and chief operating officer Naasei Appiah had been suspended over their actions around the commercial rights deal and that they were investigating the situation.

Last Wednesday SACA lodged a formal dispute because they had yet to be paid the agreed contract fee of R2.4-million.

A SACA release on Thursday blew the lid off the mystery that surrounds the saga‚ and called for an independent investigation into the damaging episode.

The release says the contract was signed by SACA chief executive Tony Irish as well as Moroe.

“We are very surprised that Naasei Appiah‚ Corrie van Zyl and Clive Eksteen have been suspended in relation to allegations surrounding CSA’s non-compliance with the 2018 MSL commercial agreement‚” Irish was quoted as saying.

“SACA didn’t deal with Appiah on this issue and in its dealings with Van Zyl and Eksteen over many months they both expressed a strong desire to resolve the payment issue‚ but it eventually became clear that higher approval to do so was necessary.

“We think it’s highly unlikely that [Moroe] would not have been aware of this ongoing issue. He was undoubtedly aware of payment obligations as he had signed the agreement.”

SACA‚ the release said‚ tried three times in four days earlier this month to resolve the issue — all without success‚ and despite Eksteen having “indicated that CSA was now prepared to resolve the matter”.

On Tuesday‚ only 10 days before this year’s MSL is set to start‚ the issue was finally put to bed and an arrangement made to use the rights to market the second edition of the tournament.

“SACA believes that the 2018 MSL dispute and the signature of the 2019 MSL commercial agreement were only resolved because of the impending player commercial activations scheduled to take place on 30 October 2019‚” Irish was quoted as saying.

“In the absence of an agreement CSA would not have had the rights to use the players in the activations.”

Much of the rest of the release details SACA’s struggle to be treated with due respect by CSA‚ which includes — the player body says — breaches of the legally binding memorandum of understanding between the organisations.

“SACA also believes that CSA’s persistent refusal to comply with the 2018 MSL agreement for such a long period was simply part of a much wider‚ systematic attempt to marginalise SACA and the role that it plays in protecting the collective interests of the players‚” Irish was quoted as saying.

“SACA is a fully recognised players association representing every professional cricketer in South Africa and the players trust holds all of the players commercial rights.

“It is not a ‘player intermediary’ as suggested by CSA.”

That dismissive phrase was how CSA described SACA in their release on Tuesday.

SACA’s litany of CSA’s failings includes signing the current MOU three months after the previous agreement expired as well as several instances of the board ignoring serious questions on challenges the game faces that could have significant negative implications for the players.

That led SACA to launch a high court action in May over a plan to restructure the domestic system that could put 70 players out of work.

“CSA has consistently failed to comply with the time periods prescribed by the rules of court relating to the filing of documents in this application and it has yet to file any answering papers‚” SACA’s release said.

They claim they have been barred‚ since April‚ from meetings of CSA’s finance and commercial‚ chief executives’ and cricket sub-committees.

“CSA is in breach of its own terms of reference in relation to some of these sub-committees‚ which provide for SACA’s attendance‚” the release said.

Plans to design a “roadmap” to “resolve the issues related to the domestic restructure and to discuss both the CSA/SACA relationship and SACA’s concerns relating to CSA’s financial situation”‚ which included an external financial review‚ was agreed on August 24.

And that’s the last SACA say they have heard from CSA on those matters.

“SACA believes that the matters that are set out above are as important as the MSL commercial agreement issue‚ if not more so‚ in order to protect both player interests and the interests of the game‚” Irish was quoted as saying.

“SACA accordingly calls upon CSA not only to ensure that its investigation into this MSL issue is conducted by an independent person‚ or organisation‚ but also that an independent investigation is conducted into these related matters.”

CSA did not respond to requests for comment.