The latest national lockdown restrictions are not good news for the South African sports world. Lloyd Burnard reports.

ministerial briefing was not good news for the South African sporting world as
hopes of getting professional competition back on television screens received a
massive blow.
much was confirmed by Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, minister of cooperative
governance and traditional affairs, who was giving draft guidelines on what
would be allowed during level four of the national lockdown as the fight
against the coronavirus crisis continues. 
Organised sport remains banned,
which means that clubs and franchises still cannot train together while a
return to playing action is still some way off.   
Professional sport around the
world has come to a standstill as a result of the pandemic and the economic
impacts are obvious.
Of South Africa’s three major
sporting codes, cricket had appeared to be the least impacted given that the
2019/20 domestic season was almost wrapped up when the lockdown first hit last
month. The South African Cricketers’ Association (SACA) has also confirmed that
there is enough money in reserves to ensure that all the country’s contracted
professionals will be paid up until the end of the 2020/21 season, regardless
of what happens.
Sport24 understands,
however, that Cricket
South Africa (CSA) has secured a lucrative incoming T20
tour from India that is due to take place at the end of August.
The tour was set up by Director
of Cricket Graeme Smith and acting CEO Jacques Faul on a recent trip to India.
Even if that series was to be
played behind closed doors, it would still provide a major cash injection for
CSA in the tune of around R180 – R195 million when broadcast deals, advertising
and sponsorships are all considered. The international public demand for
matches involving India means that each T20, according to Faul, could generate
between R60 – R65 million for CSA’s coffers.
“That’s the big one for
us,” Faul said.
Faul added that playing the
series in empty stadiums would not be a major issue given that, for tours like
this one, the money generated from the gates would only account for between 5%
to 10% of the income for the entire tour.
“We can definitely play
behind closed doors and still make revenue out of it,” Faul added.
While losing the series would be
huge, Faul and CSA are confident that it will go ahead.
“We’re quite confident that
we could be on level three by then, but you still need international travel to
open up and that’s probably your biggest issue,” he said.
“For us, the big due date is
end of August.”
The possibility of moving the
series to a neutral venue, like Dubai, would also be explored by CSA should it
get to that.
The series would serve as crucial
preparation for the Proteas’ T20 World Cup in Australia in October as, under
the current lockdown regulations, no national cricket camps can be held.
added that if the current lockdown restrictions still applied heading into
August, CSA would approach government for guidance. At present, however, the
sport has not yet been impacted on any great scale economically.
SA Rugby, meanwhile, has
announced plans to host a domestic competition as an alternative to Super Rugby
should Sanzaar’s flagship product be scrapped for 2020.
The four local Super Rugby
franchises as well as the Kings and Cheetahs, who operate in Europe’s PRO 14,
are expected to participate. That tournament, according to a SA Rugby release
last week, would take place between June and August and the latest developments
are a setback.
Speaking to Sport24 on
Saturday, SA Rugby president Mark Alexander confirmed that negotiations with
government would continue in what was fast becoming a desperate effort to find
a solution.
“Professional sport is being
hard hit by this and it could cost us hundreds of millions of Rands,”
Alexander said.
“We want to come up with a
proposal that we present to government that has all the necessary controls in
The tournament would happen
behind closed doors while SA Rugby would also commit to facilitating the
screening of the players and everyone involved in the product. Alexander added
that medical professionals were involved in formulating the proposal.
“The difference between
rugby and the other sports in South Africa is that our regional leagues are
played internationally – in Europe and Australasia,” Alexander added.
“The PSL is near the end of
their league and cricket has just completed its season, but we are just
starting out. It will cost us hundreds of millions.
“As long as we can give
content to our sponsors and broadcasters … it’s important that we get some relief.”
Sport24 also
contacted the Premier Soccer League’s (PSL) senior manager Lux September, who
said the league continued to work with government. The 2019/20 season was
entering its final stretch before the national lockdown hit, with all 16 sides
still needing to play between six and nine matches to complete the campaign.
September said that getting back
on the park as soon as possible was the aim, but he would not go into the
specifics surrounding the PSL’s current position or the financial burdens that have
come with the lockdown.