Cricket South Africa suspends chief and loses major sponsor on day of chaos
Cricket South Africa has suspended chief executive Thabang Moroe, and learned that Standard Bank, its main sponsor, will not be continuing in the role once its current deal runs out next April.
Moroe’s suspension was announced today, as a result of “reports received by the social and ethics committee, and the audit and risk committee of the board, related to possible failure of controls in the organisation," according to CSA.
CSA, which has been in dispute with member associations, its own playing staff and journalists over a range of issues, has said it will conduct “a forensic audit of critical aspects of the business and the conduct of management related to such aspects.”
Moroe’s suspension is only provisional for now, and he will be paid while it is in effect. Chris Nenzani, the CSA president, is looking for an acting chief executive for the duration of the suspension, according to ESPN Cricinfo.
David Richardson, the former South Africa player whose most recent role was chief executive of the International Cricket Council, is reported to be one option, as is Haroon Lorgat, another ex-ICC chief and former head of CSA.
While Moroe's suspension will have been welcomed by those who have called for Moroe, a divisive figure, to leave CSA, it has come too late to dissuade Standard Bank, the title sponsor of the Proteas, the men's national team, since 2016, from pulling out.
Thulani Sibeko, chief marketing and communications officer at Standard Bank, said today: “In light of recent developments at CSA, which are a culmination of long-standing problems which have damaged Standard Bank’s reputation, it has decided not to renew its partnership.”
Standard Bank’s sponsorship of the Proteas will end on 30 April 2020, once the South African cricket season has finished.
When the bank signed up as an all-encompassing title sponsor of the men's national team for test matches, one-day internationals and T20 internationals, it marked the first time ever that CSA had landed one corporate partner across all the formats. The firm had previously been a sponsor of limited overs cricket in South Africa between 1997 and 2010, sponsoring the one-day international and Twenty20 international teams in that time period.
Standard Bank added: "Cricket is a national asset valued by millions of South Africans, many of them our clients, and is an integral part of the bank's heritage... Standard Bank considers it appropriate and fair to give CSA adequate notice so that it may explore alternative sponsorships."
CSA has had a tumultuous few months. It is engaged in an ongoing legal battle with the South African Cricketers Association over unpaid monies from last year's Mzansi Super League; it suspended three high-ranking officials from within its own ranks last month with no explanation; it placed one of its state associations (Western Province Cricket Association) under administration only to then lose an arbitration hearing; and earlier this month it suddenly revoked the media accreditation for five outspoken opponents of the CSA hierarchy.
It was the media accreditation issue that seems to have been the final straw for Standard Bank, with the bank expressing its “grave concern” about that situation over the weekend.
The Proteas’ next series is against England, starting in Pretoria in late December. Although SACA has raised the possibility of strike action by its members as a result of CSA’s actions, it has added that any such action would not be taken during England’s tour.
The remaining members of the CSA board – three other senior members of staff were suspended this morning, adding to the three who were suspended last month - will hold an emergency meeting on Saturday.
SACA, along with various regional cricket executives in the country, had been calling for Moroe to step down for several weeks. SACA and CSA have been locked in dispute over the latter's restructuring of South African domestic cricket.
Tony Irish, SACA’s outgoing CEO, said in a recent statement: “It is abundantly clear that there is no confidence, from any quarter amongst cricket stakeholders, in the CSA board.”