The Cricket South Africa board has come under severe criticism from its widely respected former president, Norman Arendse, and major sponsors Standard Bank, who in separate statements over the past 24 hours have called on the administrators to “clean up their act” and “account for the current crisis in South African cricket”.
Arendse, who also served as the organisation’s lead independent director until just over a year ago, wrote an open letter to the “cricket-loving fraternity”, in which he accused the CSA board of failing in its responsibilities and asked it to “act before it’s too late” to put CSA on a more secure and sustainable footing.
He has also called on the CSA Board to hold CEO Thabang Moroe and “those who have been complicit” accountable.
These statements followed similar concerns over the state of the game voiced by the South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) and the South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA). They came after five journalists – including this correspondent – had their accreditation revoked by CSA on Sunday; they were given no reasons for their sanction but CSA CEO Thabang Moroe later said in radio interviews that the board was unhappy with their reporting and had requested meetings to discuss this but the quintet refused. All five have since been informed that their match access has been reactivated.
This was the final straw for many in a protracted series of problems for CSA, which are now being pinned on the board. ESPNcricinfo has been informed that some board members are considering resignation as soon as this week.
“The CSA Board has simply abdicated its fiduciary responsibilities by failing to act with the due care, skill and diligence required of it by the Companies Act, and the CSA Constitution,” Arendse wrote. “To the extent that the CSA Members’ Council are aware of the above mentioned shortcomings and failures of governance, they too must share responsibility, and be held accountable.
“I, therefore, call on the Board and the Members’ Council to meet urgently to consider the matters raised in this letter, and to hold the CEO (and those who have been complicit) to account,” Arendse wrote.
Among the issues Arendse raised were CSA’s proposed domestic restructure, which would eliminate the six-team franchise system and put in a 12-team provincial competition instead, and CSA’s failure to appoint a lead independent director. Arendse’s chief concern was the financial situation at CSA, with the organisation projecting losses of R654 million (USD44 million approx) in the next four-year cycle. “The future sustainability of cricket is also at grave risk given the public CSA pronouncement of a projected shortfall of hundreds of millions of Rands. It appears that the culling of franchise cricket as we know it is a direct response to CSA’s financial woes,” Arendse said.
Also on Monday, Standard Bank demanded a meeting with CSA to discuss what it called “governance and conduct media reports which have brought the game into disrepute”. ESPNcricinfo understands that Standard Bank demanded CSA “clean up their act” ahead of their sponsorship renewal negotiations.
SANEF and SACA also both condemned CSA’s actions in revoking media accreditation with SACA linking the issue to its own struggle to communicate with the governing body. “This is not … dissimilar to what SACA has had to endure over the last nine months, during which we have been barred from CSA sub-committees, denied access to critical information necessary for us to represent the players and had our agreements breached with impunity,” Tony Irish, the SACA CEO, said. “It is clear to us that things are getting worse, not better.”
SACA is still embroiled in a legal battle with CSA over the domestic restructure, which SACA says could see around 70 cricketers lose their jobs. It too called on CSA’s board to act. “On behalf of the 310 professional cricketers which we represent we are now left to publically implore the Directors of CSA to exercise their fiduciary duties by acting to deal with these issues and to protect the game from further damage. The players not only care deeply about the game but also understand that their careers depend on its health and sustainability. From a players’ point of view we therefore want to see solutions to the current problems, and for the game to be returned to a healthy position as a matter of priority.”
SANEF asked CSA to “respect the independence of the media” and to “refrain from trying to influence coverage through intimidation tactics”. The body said it would monitor the situation and take further steps if necessary.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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