Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) faces a bleak 2016 after their attempts to cash in on the upcoming three-Test series against India were shattered with only one television broadcaster Ten Sports coming forward to bid. The figure quoted by Ten Sports for the three Tests was far below what SLC was expecting. It was for just US$ 1.4 million.

Based on the previous agreement which SLC has signed with Ten Sports on the 2017 Indian tour the anticipated figure should have been about something over US$7m that is US$2.5m a Test. The total quoted by Ten Sports of US$1.4m is 20 percent of that amount

There could be several reasons for it. For instance the market at present is dried up and key companies like Sony has just completed the IPL and Star Sports have run the 2015 World Cup just concluded. So the three Tests between Sri Lanka and India is not a draw for them. The itinerary also does not include ODIs and T20s.

Taking these factors into account and knowing the market Ten Sports may have well thought that there may not be many competitors for this series and may have bid a low figure and, rightly so no one else bid.

This will make serious dents into the finances of SLC who may have anticipated a figure nearer to the 2017 revenue for the Test matches.

Because the market is bleak SLC should be looking at nothing beyond US$3m for the three Tests, a reasonable figure would have been US$6m. But US$1.4m for three Tests is a disgrace. The acceptance of this figure from Ten Sports is a matter for SLC.
The Nation learns that Ten Sports had sought a few days time from SLC until the MOU for the series has been signed by the two Cricket Boards so that they could give a decent bid, but it has been refused. Apparently Ten Sports would have quoted a small figure because of the uncertainty in the MOU.

Nevertheless the road ahead for SLC is bleak because the money of around US$11m that is due from the ICC will be utilized to settle the loans that are outstanding and used for the construction of proper centres at the R Premadasa Stadium, Pallekelle and Dambulla, to run the domestic tournaments and to pay the players contracts. Thus SLC will be left with only the money they will receive for the Test series against India to see through 2016 as according to the Future Tours Program (FTP), only Australia are due for a full series to Sri Lanka that year. For most of the year Sri Lanka will be playing cricket overseas.

It is learnt that the ICC are not interested in the corruption charges of the SLC but the only ground they are looking at justification is the Sports Law. The current law as it stands is going to exclude a lot of people with experience and that is what the ICC is looking at as a justifiable option.

There is a likelihood that a Parliamentary election will be held shortly and if Parliament is dissolved the amendments to the Sports Law cannot be passed and it will have to wait till around October.

At present the Sports Minister is awaiting for the Committee of Inquiry report appointed to look into the Sports Law. The report is expected by end of June. That’s why the Minister has asked time from ICC that he will ensure that an elected body will be in place by January.

There is ambiguity in the present Sports Law, the key issue being the four-year rule which has been interpreted in two different ways by the former Sports Minister and the Attorney-General when it was referred to him by the present Minister. There is a legal jargon in the Sports Law that needs clear clarification.

According to the former Sports Minister if you had held a post in a sports body for four years you can come back and contest for a different post for another four years. However the AG has interpreted the years as cumulatively. Thus the new amendments have to clarify all this and be more specific.

On the other hand even new individuals cannot come and contest because the SLC constitution says you must have two years of exposure in the Executive Committee. In this scenario who will run cricket? You’ve got to at least have knowledgeable and experienced people and people with skill. It’s a chicken and egg situation and it boils down to a numbers game.

There is justification in the SLC rule which most international organisations have also adopted. You should have served at least two years in the Ex-Co to come forward and contest as president or for any other post. This two-year rule has been in existence in the SLC constitution for the past 15 years or so.

The best solution to all this is for the Minister to remove the four-year rule that is causing all the confusion.