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CSA gains at the crease, but a six with a title sponsor will ...

Sport

THE WORST OF TIMES

CSA gains at the crease, but a six with a title sponsor will take time

By continually shooting itself in the foot, the body has lost trust and sponsors are not as receptive as they once were

Sports reporter
Pholetsi Moseki has been appointed Cricket SA CEO.
BAT IN HAND Pholetsi Moseki has been appointed Cricket SA CEO.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Wednesday’s CSA One-Day Cup final was a wonderful reminder of what is good and great about the domestic game.

The fielding aside, it was a much needed advert for the sport that has become mired in controversy and from which it is yet to fully extricate itself.

Increasingly after SA was welcomed back into the international arena a little more than 30 years ago, the game at the highest level became detached from what was happening at grassroots and even senior provincial level.

That was evident in the way it was promoted, how money was generated and in the way fans voted with their feet.

Wednesday’s final, however, served as a reminder of how that trend has swung, certainly when measured in the way sponsors are prepared to invest in the domestic game.

The Titans and the Lions’ respective playing shirts and pants are awash with sponsors who are venturing into or returning to the sport in greater numbers. The Titans have 43 sponsors, associate sponsors and trade exchange partners, while the Lions have almost 40.

But what was striking apart from the flurry of sixes that regularly cleared the ropes was the continued lack of title sponsor for the domestic 50-over competition.

CSA has a betting company that helped carry some of the burden for the One-Day Cup, but R56m does not earn it the right to be the title sponsor.

Sponsors are simply not as receptive to CSA’s calls the way they used to be. Over the past decade or so the game’s organisers domestically have often found ways to shoot themselves in the foot and gradually the trust between them and those who were willing to invest in the sport was eroded.

Some big-name sponsors were alienated through CSA constantly courting controversy and incompetence, while in some cases individuals in the organisation rubbed commercial partners up the wrong way.

Some big-name sponsors were alienated through CSA constantly courting controversy and incompetence, while in some cases individuals in the organisation rubbed commercial partners up the wrong way.

Of course, CSA’s boardroom upheaval did little to stem the exodus, but sponsors have other imperatives that help determine their willingness to partner sports entities.

They’d much rather have their company logo glow gloriously when the fireworks go bang in the winner’s circle. The Lions and Titans have been habitual winners and it stands to reason sponsors will gravitate to Centurion and the Wanderers. The Titans have won 12 trophies in the past decade and the Lions nine.

Both have long-established agreements with some of their commercial partners. A car company has sponsored the Titans and its predecessor for more than 30 years.

CSA still has bridges to build, never mind fences to mend.

Apart from Momentum, it doesn’t have sponsors across the respective disciplines for the men’s and women’s teams.

The betting company and a fast-food chain are event sponsors, while there is one series sponsor. Our national teams don’t have a hydration sponsor.

In cricket and, to be fair, elsewhere, sponsors who show eagerness don’t have deep enough pockets, while the ones who are by the means look the other way.

The reality CSA has been slow to accept is that sponsors don’t like noise.

The din around the body is no longer deafening, but it hasn’t entirely subsided. It still has outstanding disciplinary matters to deal with, but in other areas has made progress.

It now has a board and has finally installed Pholetsi Moseki, who is respected among his peers, as CEO.

That will bring about stability, but as CSA continues to discover, trust and integrity is only regained over time.

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