SLC warns Sri Lanka team joint-sponsor Tea Board
May 10, 2014

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has sent a letter of warning to the joint Sri Lanka team sponsor Sri Lanka Tea Board after finding that the state owned entity had infringed the rights of the national cricket team’s other sponsor Dialog who possess exclusive rights for the Sri Lanka team official merchandise in Sri Lanka. SLC had found out that the Sri Lanka Tea Board who only has the overseas rights to sell official team merchandise had made such items with the Sri Lanka Tea Board name and logo available to Sri Lankan market as well through an online retailer who is in partnership with a mobile phone operator who is in direct competition with Dialog.

SLC Treasurer Nuski Mohamed said the SLC ex-co met at an emergency meeting on Saturday to consider the course of action and decided to warn the Tea Board and ask them to stop the infringement.

SLC has been in a tug-o-war with the Tea Board over the issue mostly as the Tea Board has been dragging its feet over signing a tripartite agreement with SLC and Dialog that could settle the matter amicably. Cumbersome bureaucratic processes and excessive red tape at the stateowned Tea Board was blamed by an SLC official for the impasse.

Earlier, having lost patience after months of waiting for the issue to end, Dialog decided to hold back a Rs. 10 million sponsorship they offered for last year’s SLC annual cricket awards till SLC were able to sort out this sticking issue with the Sri Lanka Tea Board.

SLC’s Head of Marketing Vajira Dassanayake described the issue as a result of the delay at the Tea Board’s end even after all three parties coming to an agreement on the matter and added that SLC was keen to finish it as quickly as possible without conflict.

“This is completely a peripheral issue which Sri Lanka Tea Board is finding difficult to finalise. It has not affected our rapport or our strong partnership with Dialog at all. They are generous and warm and the bond between the two firms could not be better. Dialog even threw in an additional sponsorship of Rs. 18 million for the team’s sponsorship for the Asia Cup,” Dassanayake said. He also pointed out that Dialog threw a massive welcome party at great cost to the ICC World T20 winning Sri Lanka team and also the Asia Cup winning team.

In the initial agreement, SLC had awarded rights for official merchandise both in Sri Lanka and overseas to Dialog, and had offered the Tea Board official merchandise rights only out of the territory of Sri Lanka. However Tea Board had later asked SLC for joint rights to which Dialog had graciously agreed but had asked for a tripartite agreement to be signed instead of having an addendum to the original agreement.

However, sources said that Sri Lanka Tea Board is delaying the signing of this tripartite agreement as they demand overseas rights for official merchandise exclusively for them.

“There is no clash between the products of the two parties at all. Besides, Sri Lanka Tea Board’s market is out of Sri Lanka. So, we cannot understand what all this fuss is about,” said an SLC official.

Dialog are paying SLC Rs. 203 million more to SLC than Sri Lanka Tea Board to get the extra benefit of these exclusive local rights for official Sri Lanka team merchandise.

Dialog and Tea Board have both completed the first installment of their sponsorship fee upon signing the agreement last year, with Dialog paying 40 percent of their Rs. 753 million sponsorship while Tea Board paid 33 percent of their Rs. 550 million sponsorship. The balance two installments are due this month and May next year from both sponsors.

According to the agreement Dialog have the rights to display their brand on player shirts when the team plays in Sri Lanka while Sri Lanka Tea Board has rights for branding on player shirts on outbound tours. SLC has the right to sell team branding rights for ICC and ACC events separately.

Source: Daily Mirror - Sri Lanka

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