Sponsors snub Sri Lanka cricket team

December 17th, 2008 - 3:57 pm ICT by IANS  

Colombo, Dec 17 (IANS) Marketing and financial prospects of the Sri Lanka cricket team are said to have hit rock-bottom as the Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) failed to attract a single bidder to sponsor the team when bids for the fresh year closed, a media report here said.This is despite that fact that the Sri Lanka team is performing well internationally and are ranked fourth in the ICC Test rating and seventh in the one-day rankings presently. But the financial managers of the cricket governing body have fully attributed the failure to the terror attack in Mumbai and the developments in the aftermath.

“The team’s financial potential hit an unprecedented low Monday when it came to light that SLC had failed to attract a single bidder either as the Sri Lanka team sponsor or the clothing sponsor, when bids for the fresh year were closed,” Colombo-based Daily Mirror reported Wednesday.

At least three bids were required for the each of the two sponsorships.

“Marketability of the Sri Lanka Cricket team has suffered irreparable damage at the hands of continuing political meddling which has now reached comical proportions,” it said, adding that even the existing team sponsor Dilmah or clothing sponsor MAS had not sent in their bids.

Citing the ongoing controversy over the Ten Sports television rights deal and several insurance deals, the media report said that the “unending interference in the sport by various elements keen to make fast buck through commissions” have shunned away interested sponsors “from investing money in the game”.

However, the financial and marketing managers of the SLC have a different story to tell.

“Several overseas companies informed us that they were keen to make sponsorship bids. But they couldn’t send in their documents in time because of the situation that was created after the Mumbai attacks,” the Daily Mirror has quoted head of marketing for SLC, Charith Senanayake, as saying.

He has said that it would be recommended to the SLC interim committee headed by Arjuna Ranatunga to extend the deadline further in order to attract fresh bids as there was time till May-June next year to find sponsors.

“Our team doesn’t have any international cricket games till May-June next year. We cannot rush these deals because this is our bread and butter. We have to make sure that we get the best deal,” Senanayake has said.

The sponsorships usually end Dec 31, but since the team’s Bangladesh tour which begins in December would run into mid January, SLC had offered an extension of contracts to the existing team sponsor Dilmah and clothing sponsor MAS till Jan 31.

According to the media report, current team sponsor Dilmah had signed the deal in August 2005 for $ two million, while clothing sponsor MAS Holdings has signed the deal for Rs.42 million.

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