Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondent
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Four IPL franchises - Delhi Capitals, Chennai Super Kings, Mumbai Indians and Rajasthan Royals - and a consortium led by Kevin Pietersen have expressed interest in buying franchises in South Africa's new T20 tournament. The competition, scheduled for January next year, is set to include six privately owned teams, who will play each other home and away over a group stage of 30 matches before the playoffs.
This is CSA's third attempt at launching a T20 competition after the failed Global League T20 (GLT20) in 2017 and the now-defunct Mzansi Super League (MSL), which was played in 2018 and 2019. According to a document shared at a special meeting of Cricket South Africa's (CSA) Members' Council, CSA is aiming to create the "second best T20 league in the world" after the IPL. The document acknowledges that only the IPL has enjoyed "runaway success" and that there is a "clear gap" between India's T20 league and the others, which leaves CSA with no choice but to focus on being second-best in the T20 tournament stakes.
To that end it has involved the one person who knows how to create league success better than most: Sundar Raman, the former chief operating officer (COO) of the IPL, has acquired a minority share in the competition. The document has Raman owning a 12.5% share of the yet-to-be-named tournament, with CSA maintaining the majority share (57.5%) and broadcaster SuperSport owning the remaining 30%.
CSA estimates that the league will cost it USD 56 million over 10 years, and will make revenues of USD 30 million in the same period. But added to that is also a commitment from SuperSport to pay USD 89 million, which will allow CSA and the franchises to make a profit - to be split 50-50 - in the first decade. The document claims the league will be "an economically viable project for CSA from day 1", which makes it different to the other two attempts.
The GLT20, which was abandoned for reasons including the absence of a broadcast partner, cost over R300 million (USD 19.1 million) and the two MSL events, which were screened on the public broadcaster, the SABC, for a negligible fee of R25 million (USD 1.6 million), cost over R200 million (USD 12.7 million). Both significantly reduced CSA's reserves, which some say sit at such a low level that the game in South Africa is at risk of becoming seriously financially constrained in the near future.
It is with that concern in mind that CSA has opted to dip its toes back into the T20 market, noting that the "success of the IPL has changed the face and the economics of the BCCI", and hoping something similar can happen for CSA. As a result, it has ruled out any "experiments", such as playing a T10 or 100-ball format, and aims to get "100 of the best and available players" with around half from South Africa. CSA's aim is that by 2033, the tournament would have "redefined the landscape and economics of cricket in South Africa", and plans that by the 11th year of the tournament, each franchise will pay CSA 20% of their revenues.
South Africa also host three ICC events in the next five years, which will not only enhance the country's profile as a major tournament host but also bring in much-needed revenue. They will stage the Women's Under-19 T20 World Cup in January 2023, followed by the Women's T20 World Cup in February and co-host Men's ODI World Cup in 2027, along with Namibia and Zimbabwe.