Cricket South Africa's members' council has voted unanimously to launch a T20 league this year. The tournament, which will replace 2017's postponed T20 Global League, will include six teams, consist of a 30-match league phase, an eliminator match and a final, and will be played from November 9 to December 16.
There are no further details on the competition yet, such as where the teams will be based or how many international players will participate, but the dates mean that South Africa's big-name players will not be able to participate throughout. South Africa's ODI squad will tour Australia from October 31 to November 17, ruling them out of at least the first 10 days of the new competition.
Sponsors and a broadcaster have also yet to be confirmed, though it is expected that pay-television channel SuperSport , who last month pulled out of a 49% shareholding in a T20 league, will screen the matches. CSA will bear the costs of the tournament alone, with no mention of any private ownership at this stage.
Four of the eight owners of the original GLT20 reserved their rights to teams and have threatened CSA with legal action should another competition go ahead without them. That, however, did not stop the members' council - a committee made up of the 14 provincial affiliate presidents as well as the president and vice-president of CSA - from agreeing to launch the league this summer.
"Chief Executive Thabang Moroe and his management team have come with a commercial model that is both financially viable and offers promise for an exciting and long-term future that meets all the conditions laid down by the CSA Board of Directors," Chris Nenzani, CSA's President said.
For now, it appears CSA has the cash reserves to fund the league. At the AGM, held on the same day as the members' council meeting, CSA's revenue for the last financial year was reported at R 1.5 billion (USD 98.44 million) and their profits amounted to R 350 million (USD 22.97 million), after a season in which South Africa hosted both India and Australia. Overall, CSA's bank balance sits at R 627 million (USD 41.15 million) despite losses amounting to over USD 14.1 million after the aborted GLT20. Nenzani declared CSA to be in a "very healthy financial position", but that may change if the organisation is forced to meet former GLT20 owners in the courtroom.
Nenzani stressed that CSA acted in a way it thought was best for the game when it postponed the tournament and moved ownership from being foreign-based to local-based and ultimately in-house. "We will never administer cricket in a manner that is not in line with good corporate governance," he said. "That is a sustainability issue. As the leadership we were comfortable that we had to postpone the T20 League in order to sustain the game in this country, which is our key mandate."
While CSA has faced severe public criticism over its handling of the postponed tournament, South Africa's sports minister Tokozile Xasa, who was present at the AGM, praised CSA for its "good corporate governance and the advancement of transformation". Xasa said CSA is being used "as an example of the best practice for all our codes to move in the right direction for both men and women".
The only other business of the AGM was to elect a vice-president (the previous candidate, Thabang Moroe, is now CSA's CEO) and a non-independent board member. Neither position could be filled on Saturday as a majority vote was not reached. Fresh elections will be held at the next members' council meeting.