Cricket South Africa will lose ODI sponsor Momentum, whose contract expires in April 2021, because the financial services company is “not satisfied with the current state of affairs at CSA regarding governance and other reputational issues.”
In a statement issued on Tuesday afternoon, Momentum confirmed it will not seek to renew its sponsorship of international ODIs, the franchise one-day cup, the national club championships, the under-13, under-15 and under-17 school’s weeks and development initiatives including the Momentum Friendship Games and the eKasi Challenge. They will continue to sponsor the national women’s team until 2023 and have also indicated they will keep up pressure on CSA to come out of administrative crisis.
“We will continue our dialogue with CSA to keep them accountable to do the right thing,” Carel Bosman, head of sponsorships at Momentum said. “We all want to see a governing body that is run professionally and ethically, and one that considers all stakeholders to the game.”
Momentum is the second major sponsor to cut ties with CSA since the start of the unraveling in December last year after Standard Bank opted not to continue their support of the Test team. Days after Standard Bank made their intention to pull out of cricket public, Momentum issued CSA with a six-condition ultimatum which included that president Chris Nenzani and vice-president Beresford Williams step down, that CSA conducts a forensic audit into its affairs and that CSA appoints a lead independent director to its board.
While Nenzani resigned in August, Williams has now ascended to the role of acting President and will be in position until CSA reschedule their AGM, which was due to be held on September 5. When the AGM is held, a lead independent director is due to be elected, but to date, the post is vacant. And though CSA has completed a forensic audit, the document is being held under lock-and-key by their lawyers Bowman’s, despite calls from the country’s sports ministry for it to be made public. The audit is also a key part of the reason the South African Sports Confederation and Olympic Committee (SASCOC have intervened in CSA, and they too, are demanding full access to the document. SASCOC and CSA met on Monday evening and are due to hold a joint press conference on Thursday to unveil their plans of working together.
Momentum’s departure will only intensify SASCOC’s concerns with CSA’s finances, which are believed to be in trouble. Though CSA will turn a profit for the 2019-20 year (thanks largely to its hosting of England, and the favourable Rand-Dollar exchange rate) it is still forecasting heavy losses in the 2019-2023 four-year cycle. Last year, CSA estimated the deficit for that period would amount to R654 million (US$39.77 million) and the South African Cricketers’ Association put the amount closer to R1 billion (US$60.86 million). While that figure is likely to change as a result of the FTP changing, CSA are still staring at the red, so much so, that one insider told ESPNcricinfo the provincial unions and franchises, who depend on CSA’s finances to run their operations, are preparing for up to 20% less money in disbursements. Pay cuts have not taken place at CSA yet, but the source believes they are imminent.
The only silver lining is that Momentum remains committed to women’s cricket, for now, having played a key role in the professionalisation of that arm of the game. Momentum has sponsored the women’s team since 2013, when contracts were first awarded, and it is thanks to them that a full squad of women’s players and support staff are on CSA’s books. “We have been extraordinarily proud of our role in supporting the advancement of the women’s team and remain committed to that sponsorship agreement. Our continued support of the Momentum Proteas is in line with our brand narrative and we will continue to shine a light on their talent, build their commercial value and enable them on their journey to success,” Bosman said.