| Defunct Global T20 owners still disgruntled

Johannesburg – The owners of the now defunct Global T20 tournament are still intent on taking Cricket SA (CSA) to court, despite the fact that they are in the process of being refunded their deposits.

After the inaugural competition – which would have begun in November – was suspended and then replaced with a yet to be named competition that will be jointly owned by the CSA and SuperSport International, the owners demanded that they be given back their deposits and expenses, plus interest.

Hiren Bhanu, the would-be owner of the Pretoria Mavericks, confirmed that he received his $ 250 000 (R3.3 million) deposit this week, but he was unhappy about the interest – 3% instead of the requested 10% bank lending rate. He was also unhappy that there was still no decision on what constituted “reasonable expenses”, let alone when they should receive that money.

But with CSA and SuperSport having announced the new competition, the owners want to file for an interdict to stop the tournament from going ahead if they haven’t been paid their money.

“There will be an injunction seeking relief. (The CSA) can’t go ahead with the league when it has not fully concluded the other league.

“The timelines of how that unfolds will depend on how they respond. We don’t necessarily want to get involved with litigation, but we feel cheated by the way they’ve gone about things. They didn’t keep us in their confidence about the fact that they were negotiating with SuperSport. Now suddenly we hear in the press that they have a new competition.”

Bhanu said his expenses from staff salaries, accommodation, flights and South African tax amounted to between $ 400 000 and $ 500 000.

Explaining the stumbling block with the return of the costs, he said: “(CSA board member Iqbal Khan, who, with Louis von Zeuner, has been authorised by the CSA to negotiate the settlements,) keeps saying he’s working on it.

“He says he’s looking for a reasonable figure and says he’s not going to pay everything he owes us.

“I asked him to tell me what he’s not going to pay for and he hasn’t told me anything.”

Bhanu also let it slip that the coaches’ council had also sought compensation from the CSA and had been directed to the owners because the administrative body had “been contracted” by the owners.

“But how can we pay them if we haven’t been paid? Also, the players were paid despite not playing, so why is it so difficult to pay us?”

Bhanu heavily criticised the fact that SuperSport was a partner in the new venture.

“The thing is, Global T20 was cancelled because SuperSport wouldn’t give the $ 15 million that CSA was asking for – wanting to only pay $ 4 million.

“All of a sudden, they are co-owners, which makes it a monopoly. Clearly, they didn’t want to pay what was a reasonable amount to start the tournament, but now they want to control how much they’re going to pay by also being the owners.”

Bhanu said the deal was a conflict of interest for SuperSport because it stood to earn money from selling rights and advertising, and from being equity partners.

“As a broadcaster, they get to say they won’t pay a certain amount for rights, so how will the teams benefit from the competition given that the broadcaster is also an owner?

“Also, no international broadcaster is going to invest in another broadcaster’s competition, especially as SuperSport’s name is likely to be on the name of the tournament.”

SuperSport communication manager Clinton van der Berg said: “We disagree with the allegations attributed to Mr Bhanu. SuperSport’s policy is to pay fair market value for broadcast rights. Our relationship with CSA will, in our view, improve the prospects of successful international broadcast rights sales and allow further investment in the property in South Africa. We’re also a minority shareholder.”

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