Sports Minister slashes Aussie tour budget

Rs. 300 m. estimate cut down to Rs. 90 m.; SLPL tournament on low key
By S.R. Pathiravithana

With bad times hitting cricket in the country, the much-awaited Australian tour of Sri Lanka where the visitors will be engaged in two T-20s, five ODIs and 3 Tests will be on a low key. Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage speaking to the Sunday Times said, “Yes, we are looking to cut down the frills this time around. Initially the original budget that was presented spoke of a Rs. 300 million expenditure, but, I directed the SLC officials to cut down the expenses to manageable levels.

“The income that we are getting from this tour is around Rs. 140 million. First we have to cut down on the vast number of invitations that were given around. This time most of the tickets will be on sale. At the same time all these guests who were there in numbers were treated for five-star meals at the matches. We have to cut down on that also. This time they will only get a snack.”

The minister explained that even the security bill which cost the board Rs. 50 million has been pruned down to Rs. 9 million. “We have enough personnel from the Police and the forces to give security,” he said.

According to the minister, SLC Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga and the SLC’s Acting Interim Committee Chief Eshana de Silva have negotiated with hotel officials and others who provide facilities and logistics and managed to cut down a lot of frills to bring down the cost to Rs 90 million”.

The minister also added that by cutting costs, the ICC stipulations that the host country has to adhere will not be compromised in any way. However a cricket insider pointed out that the authorities may be able to cut down some costs from the initial estimate of Rs 300 million, but yet the tour would cost around Rs 200 million.

Meanwhile, in another development the much publicised Sri Lanka Provincial League T-20 tournament will be played on low key involving only local players, it is learned. A delegation of high powered personnel from Sri Lanka Cricket met with Singapore-based sponsors, Somerset Entertainment Ventures, on Friday and had a discussion on the fate of the tournament in the aftermath of Indian Cricket Board’s refusal to release their players claiming that the controversial former Indian Premier League Chief Lalith Modi was having a hand in the Sri Lankan tournament.

The Managing Director of Somerset Entertainment Ventures is Sandeep M. Bhammer while the CEO, Chairman is Kunal Bhargava. India’s stance led to the withdrawal of television giant ESPN’s support to the tournament.

The withdrawal has put the SLC in a major financial spot. The SLC which is facing a crash crunch, has received US$ 300,000 as advance payment from Somerset and apparently spent it.

Somerset bought over the sponsorship of the local cricket tournament for the next five years.
The first season of Sri Lanka Premier League 2011 was to be conducted from July 19 to August 4.
It is also learned former Test fast bowler Chaminda Vaas who was also one of the attractions of the tournament will stay on in England turning out for Northamptonshire.

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