No Sri Lankan owners for SLPL franchises
June 27, 2012
Defying all negative forecasts for the much-frowned-upon Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) and the dismal image of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC), some of the world’s leading companies have put faith in the new project, investing heavily in Sri Lankan standards to win the ownership of franchises.

Among the big names that have won the franchises are soft drink giants Pepsi and the leading Indian business conglomerate Wadhwan Holdings, sources told “Daily Mirror”. however, just as expected none of the Sri Lankan companies had made any bids, probably being knocked out by the massive floor price of US $ 3 million (Rs. 405 million) set by SLC for the franchise ownerships.

Though the figure may appear hefty by Sri Lankan standards it dwarfs when compared to the Indian Board’s financial colossus Indian Premier League (IPL) franchises which each had a fixed minimum price of $50 million (SL Rs. 1.75 billion) when the tournament was launched in 2008 but it later sky-rocketed to $225 million (SL Rs. 7.88 billion) when two teams were added in 2010.

SLPL will conduct a player auction on July 5 for the franchises to buy their players through a competitive process while the icon players and foreign stars who will have a set base price can be won through a lottery. Salaries of all players would be paid by the franchises while SLC will submit a list of 40 local players for the auction.

Indian business giant Wadhwan Holdings have paid the biggest amount of US $ 5.02 million (Rs. 677 million) to buy the Wayamba Franchise. It was Wayamba Province which represented Sri Lanka under the name Wayamba Elevens in the first two Champions League T20 tournaments in 2009 and 10.

Sri Lanka’s skipper Mahela Jayawardene and several young stars such as Thisara Perera, Farveez Maharoof, Ajantha Mendis, Rangana Herath and Chanaka Welegedara represented the team in the past.

Wadhawan Group is one of the biggest Indian companies promoted by the Wadhawan Family to pursue their business interests in diversified verticals like food retail, hospitality, hotels and resorts, lifestyle retailing, education, financial services and real estate.

Pepsi’s Sri Lankan agent Varun Beverages Lanka (Pvt) Limited has purchased the Eastern Province at US $ 3.22 million (Rs. 434.7 million), the lowest prize paid for a franchise.

Varun Beverages Lanka (Pvt) Ltd is a member of the RJ Corp which is one of the fastest growing conglomerates in Asia and Africa. It has business interests in food and beverage, breweries, real estate, hospitality, health care, education and dairy. The current annual turnover of the group is more than USD 750 million per annum with 21 manufacturing units in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Zambia, Mozambique, Morocco, Kenya and Uganda.

A professional Indian cricket fan base called Indian Cricket Dundee modelled on England’s famous Barmy Army has lavished US $ 4.33 million (Rs. 584.55 million) to buy the lucrative Western Province franchise.

Formed in 2010, they initially organised tours to support the success of the Indian cricket team across the world, according to information available on the internet.

A top SLC official disclosed that 17 applications had been collected by interested parties to apply for Franchises but only seven, interestingly the exact number of franchises available, had made bids ruling out any serious competition when the bids were opened on Monday in the presence of all the bidders at a special bid meeting at the SLC.

Nine bids had been received initially, but two bids were rejected as one had been late and the other did not submit the required financial bond, sources said.

“Each of those applications can only be collected after a payment of Rs. 50,000. So we know for sure that all those people were genuinely interested in the process and had confidence in the SLPL despite so much adverse publicity” added the official.

The seven SLPL teams have been leased out for a period of seven years to the successful bidders as an initial move after advertising the sale through newspaper advertisements.

In the first edition of SLPL, Twenty20, the seven provincial teams will play a total of 24 matches at two venues in Colombo and Pallekele.

The tournament is scheduled from August 10 to 31 just before the ICC Twenty20 World Cup to be hosted by Sri Lanka.

Each franchise team will be allowed a maximum of 18 players in their squad with a ceiling of six overseas players in each squad.

Just like the IPL, the teams can field only four overseas players in the playing eleven with at least one local player under the age of 21.

Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures which owns the commercial rights for the tournament for 15 years, will meet the expenses of the tournament and will get the income from selling broadcasting rights.

IPL’s TV partner Sony Entertainment Television (SET) is likely to secure the TV rights of the SLPL for their new sports channel 'Six', sources said.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka