Cricket’s biggest betrayal

Local tournaments given on a platter to S’pore firm for 25 years
By S.R. Pathiravithana

Could this be termed as the biggest betrayal of Sri Lanka cricket in its annals? The Sunday Times learns that the much taunted Sri Lanka Premier League tournament will bring more harm to the Lankan game’s future than any gain.

Firstly it is learned that the SLC’s agreement with the Somerset Entertainment is in violation of the SLC’s constitution. According to the constitution, under normal circumstances, no sponsorship agreement could last more than three years. The only instance where this rule was bent was to accommodate the present US$ 4.8 million team sponsorship deal with Mobitel. This contract was extended with the intervention of the then Sports Minister Gamini Lokuge.

Even Dilmah which had a running sponsorship deal with Sri Lanka Cricket for XXXXX years had to renew its contract every three years. However, Sri Lanka Cricket’s domestic sponsorship deal signed up with Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Company on 21.5.2010 will run for five years.
The initial deal was made in this manner:

2010 US$ 300,000 (already paid),
2011 US$ 325,000,
2012 US$ 350,000,
2013 US$ 375,000 and
2014 US$ 400,000.

This works out the deal at US$ 1,175,000 over the five years. As a matter of fact still this falls well below the Mobitel deal in cash value. Besides this, there is another hitch in this deal. Apart from the original deal signed with the Somerset there is another annexure that was signed subsequently.

A clause in this annexure gives Somerset Entertainment the rights to sponsor the local cricket tournaments for the next 25 years. Yet, the most discouraging news is that the deal for the next twenty five years goes to Somerset on a platter only with a profit sharing basis.

An SLC insider who opted to remain anonymous explained to the Sunday Times the intricacies of this hastily drawn up agreement. He said the biggest drawback to Sri Lanka Cricket in this agreement is that the company owns the tournament structure.

The SLC moved from the traditional Club Cricket structure to the Provincial structure just before the deal was signed. Now according to the insider, even if the SLC reverts to the old system the sponsors will still have the hold of it.

According to the deal, prominence will be given to the T-20 segment. This means the more important 4-day tournament and the Limited Overs tournament will get step motherly treatment.

The Sunday Times learns that the SLC’s legal team is reviewing the contents of the deal at present.
The source said the best thing that happened at this juncture was India pulling out its players and the local Premier League T-20 tournament getting postponed by one year and now the administrators have time to combat this problem.

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) which is upset over this tournament because of the alleged involvement of its T-20 guru Lalit Modi has already hit back at Sri Lanka by cutting off the five one-day internationals in their tour of Sri Lanka in 2012 July. India will play only three Test matches and the loss of the five one-day internationals especially against India will cost the Lankan authorities millions of dollars. The source finally said, “Whoever the administration is from time to time there comes a need to change the format of the tournament, but with this we are stuck with one system for the next 25 years.”

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