Johannesburg: Already embattled by possible criminal charges against its chief executive, Cricket South Africa (CSA) may now also be probed by the South African Revenue Services (SARS).
That is the second bit of bad news for CSA in the wake of a recommendation that its chief executive Gerald Majola be investigated by the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) over huge IPL bonuses he paid himself and other CSA staff in 2009 without the knowledge of the CSA board.
The Nicholson inquiry established by Sports Minister Fikile Mbalula made the recommendation on Friday after three months of investigation which saw former and current CSA board members testifying against Majola with damning evidence.
Mbalula set up the inquiry following two years of internal wrangling at CSA over the bonuses which saw CSA president Mtutuzeli Nyoka ousted in absentia twice.
The minister will announce next week what steps he plans to take on the recommendations, which are not legally binding as it was not a full commission of inquiry with powers of cross-examination.
Now it has emerged that CSA, and in particular Majola and former financial director Don McIntosh who pointed fingers at each other over the irregular bonuses, may also be investigated by the SARS.
CSA is registered as a non-profit body aimed at promoting cricket at grassroots level, thus giving it tax exemption.
But with ever-increasing concern at local club level that little is being done by CSA to improve facilities, especially in black townships, while publicly decrying that there are too many white cricketers in the national squad, SARS may also look afresh at this tax-exempt status.
"There is a strong body of opinion that grassroots cricket is being neglected," the Nicholson report said.
SARS spokesman Adrian Lackay said any request for an investigation from the Sports Minister or the NPA would be considered.
Although CSA has made million in profits in recent years, the past year has seen almost all sponsors shying away as they awaited the outcome of the internal squabble and the subsequent inquiry.
"This is the best thing that could have happened for local cricket in South Africa," said an administrator at the Lenasia Cricket Club, south of Johannesburg, where dozens of junior clubs compete every weekend.
Preferring to remain anonymous for fear of victimisation which he said was still rife at CSA in indirect ways, the administrator said the focus would now be clearly on the role of CSA in local cricket, and not just on the glamour of international tournaments.
Quizzed by PTI, he was adamant that Majola had to go as there was too much against him.
But a manager of one of the teams playing there was more forthright: "Not only Majola, the whole board must go and make way for one where every member is respected and comes with a clean record. Only then will we get our sponsors back, otherwise we are going to suffer again."
"It's hard to tell our boys and their parents that they should remain motivated when the rot at the top demoralises everyone," he said.