Newlands in danger of losing New Year's Test

CSA is concerned about WPCA's administrative and financial affairs as well as possible disruption caused by a big construction project at the ground

Liam Brickhill
Liam Brickhill
Newlands has hosted the New Year's Test 21 times since South Africa's readmission

Newlands has hosted the New Year's Test 21 times since South Africa's readmission  •  Getty Images

Newlands might lose hosting rights for the 2020 New Year's Test between South Africa and England. Cricket South Africa has raised concerns about the Western Province Cricket Association's administrative and financial affairs, and the potential disruption caused by a massive construction project currently underway at the ground, with CSA chief executive Thabang Moroe saying, "We are worried as CSA that Newlands may not be able to host the New Year's Test."
An IOL Sport report on Thursday said that the association is in significant financial strife and in danger of missing out on the hosting of the marquee event as it continued its attempts to raise money for building developments at Newlands, and there are signs of a troubled state of affairs in the organisation's administration.
"We are concerned with the finances of Western Province, so as CSA we want to understand some of the decisions they have taken and what their plans are in terms of moving themselves out of the hole they have put themselves in," Moroe explained. "They may not be able to [host the New Year's Test] but I'd like to think that with us sitting around the table and working together as the mother body and the affiliate partner that we ensure that the Test match stays there and we are ready to host it."
The WPCA has not held its annual general meeting this year, and last week CSA announced that it had appointed an administrator to take over the administrative, governance and financial affairs of WPCA "until all these respective functions have been placed on a satisfactory footing".
In February, the WPCA announced a R750 million (approx. US$50 million) upgrade to Newlands that would see the construction of four new office blocks on the site, as well as refurbishments to the Western Province offices and President's Pavilion at Newlands. South African financial services and investments group Sanlam was to have taken on 51% of the costs, with WPCA covering the other 49%.
"This is a journey that started around ten years ago and the main purpose of this journey was the sustainability of cricket," Cape Cobras chief executive Nabeal Dien had said at the time. "I don't think we would have gone into this, and neither would Sanlam, unless we saw a viable outcome."
However, last week CSA suspended the WPCA board, appointing former chief executive Andre Odendaal as an administrator, with Odendaal due to present monthly progress reports as CSA takes a hands-on approach to the WPCA's affairs.
"CSA will exercise its rights until such time that it is reasonably of the opinion that the WPCA administrative and financial affairs are being conducted according to best practice and that the association can assure equity partners and stakeholders that projects currently underway will unfold as planned," said CSA President and board chairman Chris Nenzani.
CSA is clearly unhappy with WPCA's progress, and the fate of the marquee New Year's Test fixture is set to be decided at a meeting between CSA and the WPCA next week.
"This includes getting the City of Cape Town involved and there's a big construction project going on there," Moroe said. "There's the concern of safety as fans are concerned. The construction is going to disrupt a little bit in terms of how the Test match is generally hosted‚ but there's a figurative and literal hole that needs to be filled.
"From a security perspective‚ we need to adhere to all the requirements and all involved have to be safe. We also need to uphold the ICC's hosting standards and make sure that the English also feel safe in coming to the grounds and that we can cater for all the spectators because we are expecting quite a big number of English supporters."
Newlands has hosted the New Year's Test 21 times since South Africa's readmission into international cricket in 1991, with the last one played against Pakistan from January 3, 2019.

Liam Brickhill is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent