Cricket South Africa has had its first meeting with broadcaster SuperSport to discuss a deal for the upcoming T20 Global League following the departure of Haroon Lorgat as CEO on Thursday. Acting CEO Thabang Moroe, CFO Naasei Appiah, commercial manager Clive Eksteen and Ortus Sports and Entertainments’ Venu Nair, who have been given the mandate of selling the rights, met with SuperSport CEO Imtiaz Patel on Saturday morning. They are hopeful of sealing the tournament’s broadcast deal soon.
South Africa’s inaugural T20 glamour competition is due to start in less than five weeks, on November 3, and is yet to secure a broadcaster. Lorgat made last-ditch attempts to sign an Indian company on Monday, after repeated reassurances he was waiting for the “right time” to tie up the deal. At an event unveiling Preity Zinta as the owner of the Stellenbosch Kings earlier in the month, Lorgat told reporters he “could have signed the deal months ago” but was not similarly forthcoming about what stopped him.
Lorgat ran into several problems along the way, not least that SuperSport, Africa’s biggest sports broadcaster, initially insisted they had the rights to all cricket played in South Africa and were not expecting to pay more for the T20 Global League. It has since been established that the tournament constituted an entirely new product. SuperSport and CSA have been in negotiations but have been unable to agree on a price while CSA has also sought international broadcasters.
Ultimately, it was Lorgat’s handling of the league’s logistics that made his position at CSA untenable. Lorgat and the CSA Board were understood to be at loggerheads over various sticking points – the broadcast deal was one of them, expenses were another – and on Thursday Lorgat’s exit was confirmed. He is expected to receive a payout.
The CSA delegation was particularly significant because it included Appiah, who was previously left out of discussions as a result of an ongoing dispute with Lorgat. An insider told ESPNcricinfo that Lorgat’s departure would likely smooth the way for the broadcast deal to be wrapped up. Without it, the T20 Global League’s business model is in danger of being deemed unsustainable and, with millions of dollars invested in the tournament, CSA cannot afford that.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
ESPN Sports Media Ltd.