UPDATE 1-Cricket-South Africa board suspends CEO on misconduct allegation

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* Cricket board grappling with operational shortcomings

* Major sponsor says it will not renew CSA contract

* CSA to approach former ICC CEO Richardson for temporary role (Adds details, quotes)

JOHANNESBURG, Dec 6 (Reuters) – Cricket South Africa chief executive Thabang Moroe has been suspended following allegations of misconduct, the CSA said on Friday, just hours after the organisation’s major sponsor said they would not renew their contract.

The CSA, which placed Moroe on what it termed a “precautionary suspension”, has been grappling with operational shortcomings and a possible players’ strike ahead of a home series against England.

The decision follows reports received by the Social and Ethics Committee and the Audit and Risk Committee of the Board “related to possible failure of controls in the organisation,” it said in a statement.

The Board mandated the CSA chairman to look for an acting CEO for the duration of Moroe’s suspension. It will approach former ICC chief executive Dave Richardson to fill the role on a temporary basis, it said.

Reuters was unable to reach Moroe for comment on Friday. He had been under fire after he revoked the accreditation of five journalists last weekend, saying he was unhappy with the way they were reporting on issues within the organisation.

That caused a public outcry leading to their reinstatement, and a rebuke from two board members, Shirley Zinn and Iqbal Khan, who both resigned in a move that suggested they had lost faith in his leadership.

Khan was chief of the finance committee and among a list of grievances, said there had been “widespread credit card abuse” in the CSA offices.

In a further blow, the CSA’s major sponsor Standard Bank announced it would not renew its financial support of the organisation when their current agreement ends in April 2020, citing governance concerns that have damaged the bank’s reputation.

“Cricket is a national asset valued by millions of South Africans, many of them our clients, and is an integral part of the bank’s heritage,” its chief media officer Thulani Sibeko said in a statement.

“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.”

The South African Cricketers Association (SACA) also called for the resignation of the entire CSA board on Friday following a meeting of their executive and management.

SACA also said it would not rule out a player strike that could have an impact on England’s four-test tour that is due to start on Dec. 26 in Pretoria, though chief executive Tony Irish told Reuters on Wednesday they would be mindful of disruptions to international cricket.

“We will be responsible around the international tours, because we know that those affect teams from outside of South Africa,” he said. (Reporting by Nick Said in Cape Town; editing by John Stonestreet and Angus MacSwan)

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