A rights deal to broadcast the inaugural season on Sri Lanka’s Twenty20 (T20) cricket league now looks unlikely after India’s cricketing authority decided to stop its players from taking part in the new tournament.
The decision by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) outlawing its players’ participation in the new Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL), has severely dented the marketing potential of the event, which was expected to attract a large television audience - and an accompanying host of advertisers - from the island’s larger cricket-obsessed neighbour.
Now, with the opening of the SLPL season scheduled for 19 July, it looks an increasingly tall order for Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures (SEV) and host Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) to secure an international broadcast partner for the T20 competition.
“We made an attempt to convince them, but the BCCI told us that it cannot reverse its stand. They seem to have some apprehensions over the tournament,” Sri Lanka’s sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told the Indian newspaper Daily News & Analysis.
“A lot depended on the Indian participation. Now that the Indians are not coming, we will try to sign a deal with a broadcaster internally in our country,” Mr Aluthgamage added.
India’s concern with the SLPL is apparently down to the involvement of SEV, the SLC’s marketing partner in the project, and in particular that the year-old company had attracted and signed player contracts.
“In the IPL [Indian Premier League] the players are contracted by the BCCI, but the SLPL is offering contracts with the event management company [SEV],” a BCCI official told reporters last week.
“So, if there is any goof-up, Sri Lanka Cricket cannot be held accountable. As a result, the board [BCCI] would not like to take any chances.”
Furthermore, there are media reports the Singapore-based business has links to the former head of the IPL Lalit Modi, who now faces criminal charges in India