South Africa's men's team will lose their major sponsor, Standard Bank, who have opted not to renew their deal when it expires on April 30, 2020. This ends an association with cricket that dates back to 1998. Standard Bank sponsored South African cricket between 1998 and 2011, when it ended its sports associations with both cricket and football. The company then returned to cricket in 2016 and signed a four-year deal with Cricket South Africa (CSA) which is understood to be to the tune of R400 million (approx. US$ 27.3 million). Currently, they are only the title sponsor for the men's team and their withdrawal is a direct result of administrative and governance problems at CSA which Standard Bank believes is tarnishing its reputation.
"Standard Bank is committed to upholding the highest levels of leadership, integrity and governance. 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 with CSA," Thulani Sibeko, Standard Bank Group Chief Marketing and Communications Officer said in a statement released on Friday morning.
Cricket South Africa's protracted problems, which include a court battle against the South African Cricketers' Association (SACA), projected financial losses of at least R654 million (approx. US$44.7 million) in the next four-year cycle, and the suspension of six staff members - three of whom were given notice of their suspension on Thursday - came to a head last weekend when five journalists' accreditation was revoked during the Mzansi Super League (MSL).
On Monday, CSA CEO Thabang Moroe confirmed CSA made the decision because they did not approve of the way these reporters were writing about the organisation. That same day, Standard Bank expressed its "grave concerns," about the situation at CSA and demanded a meeting with CSA to "know about developments within CSA, especially those that relate to governance and conduct."
Sources told ESPNcricinfo that Standard Bank had been severe on CSA officials at the meeting and demanded they "clean up their act". On Tuesday, Standard Bank issued a statement expressing its satisfaction that the meeting was "productive" and that they were left with the assurance that CSA would "urgently take the South African public into its confidence about the state of governance at the cricket administrative body". It also said CSA had agreed to "urgently implement remedial actions to address stakeholder concerns, including the unacceptable manner in which it treated members of the media".
However, just three days later, Standard Bank has confirmed it will not renew the sponsorship deal. Between Tuesday and Friday, three independent directors, Professor Shirley Zinn, Iqbal Khan and Dawn Makhobo, have resigned from the CSA board, and there have been calls from all quarters for the CEO and President, Chris Nenzani to step down.
Among the chorus has been former UCB managing director Ali Bacher, who was involved in mediating an agreement between Moroe and Graeme Smith, which would have seen Smith become director of cricket on October 1. Critiques have also emerged from development sponsors The Willowton Group and, last night, the Gauteng Cricket Board, the biggest provincial affiliate of CSA. In addition to the voices of dissent, CSA also faces allegations of credit card abuse from Khan, and a second commercial rights dispute with South African Cricketers' Association (SACA) in as many months.
Now, CSA has also lost its only major team sponsor after deals with Sunfoil and Momentum ended last year.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent