CSA explains restructure: We are not in financial crisis

Cape Town - Cricket South Africa (CSA) says it is not experiencing a financial crisis, but rather taking the responsible steps needed to avoid one.

It has been a testing week for CEO Thabang Moroe and his team following confirmation last weekend that the CSA board had approved a drastic restructure of the country's domestic cricket scene. 

Franchise cricket is on its way out and at the end of the 2019/2020 season domestic cricket will move to a more traditional set-up were 12 provincial regions do battle. 

While the new structure will see more than 70 new professional contracts awarded, the plan is that the new structure will save CSA money and that is the main driving force behind the change. 

At present, CSA pays each of the six franchises around R15 million per year while they must also fund the 14 semi-professional sides that play in three separate competitions themselves. 

It is not only the wage bill at a semi-professional level that is hurting CSA, but also the logistical burdens that come with flights, hotels and catering. 

By moving from 20 functioning sides to 12, CSA is expecting there to be around 90 less matches under their banner per season and that is what is expected to cut costs significantly. 

At a press conference in Johannesburg on Friday, the CSA leadership sought to explain their financial position and the restructure. 

According to acting chief financial officer Ziyanda Nkuta, CSA had been expecting to record a loss of R654 million over the next four-year period but that, with the restructure, that figure would come all the way down to around R200 million

"It's important to state that we are not recovering from anything. What we are doing is seeing an iceberg in front of us at CSA and we are steering our ship before we hit it. Our finances remain strong. We just want to make sure that we continue to remain strong," Moroe explained.

The South African Cricketers Association (SACA) had expressed concern at the financial forecasts and said in the week that no restructure could happen without their blessing given last year's Memorandum of Understanding with CSA, but the message on Friday from CSA's head of pathways Corrie van Zyl was very different. 

"We have engaged with SACA on the restructure and they have in principal supported us, although as a collective we need to work out the finer details," Van Zyl said, in direct contrast to suggestions from SACA this week that they had not been engaged at all.

Moroe also said the restructure had received full backing from all six franchise CEOs, though at this stage none of the franchises have commented publicly. 

"We'll be sitting again in the near future to see how we can assist them (the franchises) in keeping their current sponsors and how to grow cricket commercially," Moroe said.

"The entire franchise system has become a heavy burden, so we are saying that we must not wait too long to push reset."

The Mzansi Super League (MSL), meanwhile, has not been included in CSA's projections. 

According to Moroe, the MSL suffered a loss of around R80 million in its inaugural edition in 2018 while it is expected to lose R209 million over its first four years.

Nkuta is adamant, however, that CSA is in good financial shape.

"It's been incorrectly reported in the media that CSA is in a financial crisis," she said.

"That's incorrect. CSA is financially stable. What has happened is that we forecast on a four-year cycle from one year to another in terms of what we see in revenues, and we are acting as a responsible business.

"We've got healthy cash reserves and healthy investments which are still performing well ... we're just trying to make sure that cricket stays sustainable."