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Cheers as Cricket SA lands a sponsor for Mzansi Super League

Kugandrie Govender during the CSA and New Balance Kit Handover at Newlands Cricket Ground on October 08, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Kugandrie Govender during the CSA and New Balance Kit Handover at Newlands Cricket Ground on October 08, 2019 in Cape Town, South Africa.
Image: Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

Crisis-riddled Cricket South Africa (CSA) received a major boost after the embattled organisation managed to secure a title sponsor for the money-bleeding Mzansi Super League (MSL).

“We have signed a title sponsorship. I am not at liberty to tell you at this point who it (the sponsor) is because we like to keep the announcement up to our sponsors in terms of timing and all of that‚” CSA acting CEO Kugandrie Govender told SowetanLIVE.

“So they (the new MSL title sponsor) have said to us they would like to time it according to their calendar‚ so we are not ready to announce it just yet. We will leave it to the sponsors to decide what time best suits them.”

SowetanLIVE understands the new sponsor has been contracted for five years but Govender would not be drawn into discussing further details.

Govender hopes the third edition of the MSL will be played in the traditional late November to early December slot‚ but she admitted that Covid-19 restrictions will dictate the circumstances.

“What I am concerned about is that we may not be able to put out a product like we did in the first two editions in terms of Covid-19 restrictions and what we want with the international players (coming to SA) and all of that.

“Remember our revenue comes from international broadcasters mostly and we need those international players for the MSL.

“Otherwise it will just be a domestic product and the international broadcasters are not really going to be taking up content which does not have superstars from around the world.

“Are we going to get the international players here even if our borders are closed? Will countries where the international players will be coming from be able to let players leave? So we have got to take that into consideration.”

Govender said that the MSL remains an important project for CSA and confirmed that public broadcaster SABC will for the third successive year show it live on its abundant platforms to millions of viewers.

The MSL ran with no title sponsor and broadcast rights were apparently sold for a pittance or given for free to the cash-strapped SABC as pay-TV giants SuperSport rejected it.

Govender‚ who was promoted from her role as chief commercial officer last week to replace Dr Jacques Faul‚ said CSA has learnt from mistakes made in the past two editions.

“The reality is that MSL will actually turn around before it is even due to turn around simply because we have now signed sponsors already for MSL 3.0‚ which is something that we did not have before.

“Let us not shy away from it‚ there were a lot of mistakes in the first two editions of the MSL. But with everything in life‚ you don’t learn then you will have a problem. We have taken in a lot of lessons‚” Govender said.

The MSL bled money having cost CSA accumulative losses that tallied up to R210m since its inception two years ago.

“But now we are on the right path again. I mean let’s not forget that the Indian Premier League broke even in year 10‚ the Australian Big Bash broke even in year six. So I think the MSL will break even a lot sooner than that‚” she said.

“The MSL was scheduled and forecast to make a loss as would with any new product. You got to put in a couple of years of investment before it starts turning (positive results).”

Govender said CSA’s commercial programmes are the strongest they have been despite the organisation’s image and reputation taking a nosedive over the past year and a half.

“As you know‚ we have signed two headlines sponsorship during lockdown‚ which is something I don’t think we are claiming enough credit for‚ given the fact that the last time we signed a headline sponsorship was with Sunfoil in 2009.”

CSA lost a near R100m-a-year headline sponsorship from Standard Bank in April but took first steps towards recovery after getting betting company Betway on board in July with Govender heading the commercial wing.

The betting company concluded a three-year deal with CSA as the headline event sponsor for the men’s Test and ODI teams‚ as well as official sponsor of the men’s T20 and the women's team.

The betting company featured as sponsors during the 2019/20 summer when South Africa hosted England for a four-Test series that the home side lost 3-1.

In June‚ CSA got another shot in the arm when the organisation retained KFC as title sponsors of the Proteas Twenty20 Internationals and the KFC mini-cricket programme.

The partnership will keep the Proteas' fire burning for the next five years and three years respectively‚ the two organisations said in a joint statement after renewing a relationship that began over a decade ago.