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Cricket news - CSA sinks deeper into administration quagmire

The dereliction is understood to involve an outstanding sum of R2-million owed by CSA to the SA Players' Association (SACA) for the 2018 Mzansi Super League

Cricket South Africa's (CSA) long-standing soap opera aired another episode yesterday, with the temporary suspension of three operationally significant senior officials: Naasei Appiah, the chief operating officer, Corrie van Zyl, the acting Protea team director, and Clive Eksteen, head of sponsorship and sales.

In a press release this morning (Wednesday 30), CSA said that they had "recently become aware of an unfortunate situation involving players and player contracts... in which allegations of dereliction were levelled against CSA".

They continue: "CSA is in the process of investigating this matter to determine the extent to which certain employees [the three mentioned] were or were not derelict in fulfilling their duties."

The dereliction is understood to involve an outstanding sum of R2-million owed by CSA to the SA Players' Association (SACA) for the 2018 Mzansi Super League (MSL). SACA would not allow their members to participate in any commercial activities for this year's tournament starting in two weeks' time until the matter was settled.

This jeopardised a player activation scheduled for today (Wednesday 30) by tournament broadcaster, the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The SABC will be broadcasting the second edition of the MSL, and today's activation, featuring two players from each of the six franchises, was threatened until the money was paid to SACA late yesterday afternoon.

Given that the issue relates to last season's inaugural edition of the MSL, this matter has been on CSA's radar for a year. Quite why it should only become important now suggests that we must look for other reasons to explain the suspension of the three.

Threatening an SABC activation by monies owed is presumably not one of them.

Of the three suspensions, Appiah's is the most interesting, given that he was presumed to be an ally of Thabang Moroe, the CSA chief executive. Appiah, who is a Ghanaian, is usually content to keep a low-profile but was implicated in the fall from grace of both previous chief executives.

Like Gerald Majola, Appiah was the beneficiary of double bonuses relating to South Africa's hosting of the 2009 Indian Premier League (IPL). The explanation given at the time was that such bonuses had been authorised by Appiah's then boss, Majola.

So bad did the working relationship between Majola's successor (after a brief period by Jacques Faul) Haroon Lorgat, and Appiah become, that the CSA board appointed Charles Nupen, a labour lawyer, to mediate between them. Nupen's intervention was unsuccessful, Lorgat's reputation was damaged as the T20 Global League crashed and burned, and Appiah and Moroe bandied together as allies. This is clearly the case no longer.

"What CSA have done here is that they've stripped out the financial experience, cricket know-how and commercial experience in one full swoop," said a member of the board, who added that he had not been consulted about the suspensions. "You also have to wonder about the factual accuracy of the press release. Thabang has been antagonistic towards SACA from when he took over two years ago. One of his first acts was to make it difficult for the players to get compensated for their part in the Global League."

Eksteen is known to be in the midst of re-negotiating a sponsorship deal with Standard Bank, the Proteas' team sponsor, so his suspension comes at a crucial time for the organisation. Sponsors are not banging a path to CSA's door, with the both the MSL2 (as a tournament) and the six teams with in it, lacking sponsors, and CSA having announced a raft of "austerity plans" in an April press release.

Van Zyl is a diligent administrator, who made the transition from a franchise coach with the Knights, to a capable operational feature of CSA's behind the scenes team.

Although Tony Irish, the outgoing SACA chief executive, would not be drawn on the matter, it is unlikely that SACA will allow what they see as a spurious justification for the suspension of the three to pass without comment. It is a clear - and much-publicised - theme that CSA and SACA have locked horns since Moroe's arrival, with the three suspended officials doing no more than his bidding.

On any number of occasions Moroe has spoken dismissively of SACA and their members, once saying that he wanted them to behave more like traditional employees. In documents submitted to the South Gauteng High Court in early June, Moroe told SACA president, Omphile Ramela that Irish "adds no value".

SACA and CSA are locked in a five month-long court battle over proposed changes to the structure of the first-class game. SACA argue that they are not opposed to such changes, but want to be consulted about them because they might entail up to 70 job losses.

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