Marketability of the Sri Lanka Cricket team has suffered irreparable damage at the hands of continuing political meddling which has now reached comical proportions, as the team s financial potential hit an unprecedented low on Monday when it came to light that Sri Lanka Cricket (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.The bids were closed at 4.00 p.m. on Monday and pathetically even the existing team sponsor Dilmah or clothing sponsor MAS had not sent in bids, in the face of unending interference in the sport by various elements keen to make fast buck through commissions, as was recently witnessed in the TV rights deal and several insurance deals that have been bandied about in all directions, shying away any interested sponsors from investing money in the game.The tender bids which were opened on November 17 were informed to the public through advertisements that were strangely published only in the favourite newspapers of SLC officials and not in the best selling newspapers, making the result hardly surprising.
SLC Treasurer Sujeewa Rajapakse, Head of Marketing Charith Senanayake, Co-ordinator Promotions and Public Relations Lakith Pieris and Manager Administration B.H. Perera were present when the two boxes that were assigned to receive the bids were opened, but both boxes had been empty to the disappointment of those present.
At lease three bids were required for the each of the two sponsorships.
Usually the sponsorships end on December 31, but since Sri Lanka 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 January 31.
For 2009, SLC had broken the clothing sponsorship into three segments of full team clothing sponsorship, replica clothing sponsorship and official merchandising. Interested parties could have bid for one segment or all three segments, but no one had been interested.
Senanayake said the failure to attract any bids was a direct result of the recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai. Several overseas companies informed us that they were keen to make sponsorship bids. But they couldn t sent in their documents in time because of the situation that was created after the Mumbai attacks explained Senanayake.
He said he will recommend the SLC interim committee 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 till May-June next year. We cannot rush these deals because as you know, this is our bread and butter. We have to make sure that we get the best deal we can added Senanayake.
Present team sponsor Dilmah signed their deal with the then LC interim committee chairman Jayantha Dharmadasa and Secretary Tryphon Mirando on August 24, 2005 for a US $ two million.
Present clothing sponsor MAS Holdings signed their deal with Dharmadasa and the then Secretary Adel Hashim for Rs. 42 million.
Recently, SLC s local TV sponsor Rupavahini also withdrew from a Rs. 10 million deal, alleging SLC had failed to fulfil the contract terms.
A former SLC official said that it is absurd for SLC to go fresh TV rights bids and hope to attract a better deal in the face of the present situation, after trying to kick out Ten Sports who had been the TV rights holder since 2001.
Sri Lanka team is performing admirably internationally and are ranked fourth in the ICC test championships and are seventh in ICC ODI rankings presently, though the administrators have failed to market them fittingly.