Embattled Cricket SA set for a massive R1.5-billion financial windfall

Kugandrie Govender (Acting CEO of CSA) during the 2020/2021 CSA Season Launch at Nelson Mandela Oval on October 22, 2020 in Hammanskraal, South Africa.
Kugandrie Govender (Acting CEO of CSA) during the 2020/2021 CSA Season Launch at Nelson Mandela Oval on October 22, 2020 in Hammanskraal, South Africa.
Image: Lee Warren/Gallo Images

Cricket South Africa (CSA) are set for a massive cash injection of around R1.5-billion from an Indian pay-television broadcaster for the rights to the embattled cricket body’s content in the subcontinent.

TimesLIVE can reveal that pay-channel Star will be the exclusive broadcast rights holders of CSA’s content in the subcontinent after, in principle, agreeing a lucrative deal that is worth between $95m and $105m over the next four years.

CSA told TimesLIVE that the two parties are finalising the finer details of the contract and it is only a matter of time before an official announcement is made.

“The announcement is imminent and will be made by CSA once both parties are satisfied that all governance and protocols have been adhered to,” CSA said in a statement to TimesLIVE.

“It is a four-year deal for Indian and Asian sub-continent territories.”

While CSA declined to divulge the full contractual financial details, TimesLIVE understands that the deal will be worth around R1,5-billion.

“The contract is for four years and the fee contribution is confidential as part of the contractual obligations,” said CSA.

The move is part of a plan by Star to consolidate its market position on cricket content in the subcontinent. The impending deal between CSA and Star will see the Indian pay-television giant replace Sony, who had owned the rights since 2012.

It is understood Star capitalised on an opportunity after it caught wind that Sony had tabled a reduced offer to CSA for a new deal. The Indian broadcaster immediately put a slightly improved proposal on the table.

Star boast the same reach as the previous rights holders in cricket-mad India, in the rest of equally cricket-adoring Asia and in the Middle East.

CSA said pinning down a partnership of this nature under the new normal and a volatile economic environment due to Covid-19 was tough. But the cricket body said the deal would be good for the financial standing of the organisation.

“The deal will be one of the largest revenue sources for CSA and negotiating a good deal for SA cricket was a difficult task in this climate, but one that CSA is proud to have done so successfully.”

The deal was initiated by erstwhile CEO Thabang Moroe shortly before he was suspended in December last year for “serious misconduct”. Moroe was eventually dismissed in August this year after eight months on fully paid suspension.

TimesLIVE understands that Moroe travelled to London to meet with the Star executives last year and also had several phone calls with the Indians.

The deal will be the first-ever business engagement between CSA and Star.

CSA declared a loss of R200m for the 2018 to 2019 financial year at last year’s annual general meeting in September.

The organisation‚ which works on a four-year cycle where money is made off tours against the likes of India‚ Australia and England‚ declared revenue of R929m against expenses of R1.2-billion.

CSA’s cash reserves‚ amounting to R850m at last year’s annual meeting‚ mean that the organisation is still in relatively healthy financial footing.