Cricket South Africa and its chief executive officer Haroon Lorgat have "mutually agreed to part ways with immediate effect" because of a "breakdown" in their relationship.
Lorgat's term was supposed to continue until 2019 but it is understood that his position became untenable over differences with CSA in the handling of the upcoming T20 Global League, which is expected to go ahead as planned, and an ongoing dispute with Naasei Appiah, CSA's CFO.
Appiah and Lorgat were involved in a formal dispute process and ESPNcricnfo understands the lawyer who conducted proceedings had submitted his report, the contents of which may now be irrelevant.
CSA vice-president Thabang Moroe was appointed as acting CEO, while the search for a new CEO begins.
"We recently tried on a few occasions to remedy the situation between Mr Lorgat and the board, but we have not been successful in finding a satisfactory resolution," CSA president Chris Nenzani said. "The board unanimously felt that it was in the best interest of the organisation that we agreed to a mutual separation agreement with Mr Lorgat.
"It was a tough call for us to make and we recognise that Mr Lorgat had made a big contribution to the success of the organisation and together with the board was instrumental in changing the fortunes of CSA when it had endured a troublesome period five years ago. We are all saddened by this turn of events, but at the same time we need to look forward to ensure new leadership at CSA builds on the solid foundation laid by Mr Lorgat."
The most pressing concern CSA has is the running of the GLT20, which was very much Lorgat's project. Lorgat's departure comes a little more than a month before the event is set to start on November 3 and there is no broadcast deal yet. Lorgat was in India earlier this week attempting to secure a broadcaster, while talks with Africa's main sports broadcaster SuperSport continue.
SuperSport initially believed it owned the rights to all cricket played in South Africa because of a long-standing contract with CSA, but has since been tied up in negotiation over the GLT20, which CSA sees as a cash-cow. The amount CSA wants for the rights is believed to be a bone of contention.
One source revealed that Lorgat's departure may clear the way for a deal to be sealed soon, while another expected CSA to make an announcement over the broadcast plan in the next few days.
The actual running of the GLT20 will continue as planned, with several CSA and additional staff deployed to work on the tournament. Though Lorgat was largely dealing with the franchise owners, all eight are understood to have met with the CSA board on Wednesday, when they were reassured the tournament will not face any hurdles despite Lorgat no longer being involved.
The CSA board's alarm at Lorgat's expenditure on the tournament so far will also come to an end. According to CSA's financial statements, the GLT20 has already cost R4.5 million (US$ 330,000) between May 1, 2016 and April 30, 2017, with money spent on first-class travel and corporate events. That time period does not take into account the launch in London in June or the draft in August. CSA is anticipating a loss in the initial year, or perhaps more, of the league.
Lorgat was appointed CEO in July 2013 for a period of three years, and in 2015 he was given a three-year extension until July 2019. In total, he served four years and two months in a tenure that started and ended in controversy.
Five months into Lorgat's term, he ran into trouble with the BCCI and that problem cost CSA several millions. The BCCI had issues with Lorgat while he was in charge at the ICC and was so unhappy with his appointment as CSA CEO that they cut short a tour of three Tests, five ODIs and two T20Is, to one of two Tests and three ODIs. CSA was only able to cushion the financial blow because the rand had crashed in value to the dollar at the same time and when exchange-rate calculations were done, the loss was lower.
In later years, Lorgat had great success in other departments. He oversaw an overhaul of CSA's governance structures and redesigned the financial model while also playing an active role in supporting transformation and starting developments plans around the country. But he was never able to win India over.
India's upcoming tour of South Africa will not include a Boxing Day Test and the New Year's Test will be delayed until January 5, three days after its traditional start.