Worth reviving SLPL again

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2017-09-23

Sports lovers always crave to see their favourites, whether they be individuals or teams, perform well. A sport can only draw a large spectator turnout if the fans feel they will be provided with their money's worth.

For instance, when Usain Bolt performed, even those who had no interest in athletics would want to watch that marvel in action. Even when Bolt was beaten, in his swansong, it was he who was cheered, while the winner was jeered.

India has managed to provide its television viewers with plenty of sporting events through a number of channels dedicated to televising sporting events from around the world. This is a boon to all those who yearn for an evening of relaxation after a hard day's work.
It was India that introduced the world's biggest cricket show, the Indian Premier League (IPL), which has become a much awaited annual event and viewed by millions the world over.

It can be argued that India has a big market for televised sports events and that is what made the IPL a success, but why cannot the same be said of Sri Lanka which attempted to follow the India's example.

Sri Lanka's attempt at organizing the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) did get off the ground in the first year and it turned out to be a financial flop. Problems that came to light were that the Sri Lanka Cricket had to fork out big sums of money to host the event and by giving the televising rights to an inexperienced sports channel the coverage was poor. Added to that, the timing of the event was bad, so too was the ability to draw in advertizing and to make matters worse players' salary problems and the International Cricket Council (ICC) interference too played a big hand in the SLPL's failure.

Sri Lankans begin to complain only when things get sour. It is quite evident now that the SLPL took place because some foreigners offered to run it. SLC gave them the nod at the time thinking that they would not have to burn their fingers but would be able to enjoy the profits. True the inaugural round saw the SLC making a profit. But, that was the end of the SLPL.

The inaugural SLPL in 2012 may not have had the desired results for the investors, but it was a success from a local point of view, and it is supposed to have got SLC a handsome profit US $ 1.6 million. A number of former players believe it was a successful tournament and the stars who participated believe that such a tournament could bring in the much needed dollars.

SLC was able to harness 56 foreign players in the 2012 tournament which was an encouraging sign for the local authorities. But, they were happy to let the overseas business partners do the thinking.

There had been good responses from countries whose players took part in it. This should have been taken as plus factors and the local authorities should have tried to collaborate with either one or a group of local investors, but unfortunately their preference is to gulp it all by themselves or destroy the project.

Failure to attract local spectators would have resulted in the investors deciding to refrain from putting their monies into the SLPL.
Sri Lanka Cricket would have done well to have followed the Indian Franchise system which would have also had teams representing Provinces or Districts and this would surely have drawn in spectator support for the teams.

Instead, the SLC top brass bungled by failing to take into consideration the views and wants of cricket lovers. All the SLC was interested in was the money it could make from such events. They also did not want to lose their voter clubs and structured the SLPL in a way that it would ensure the clubs remained faithful to them.

They first wanted the club system to remain and SLPL to be a side show that was run by outsiders who knew how to make profits. This was the SLC at its lowest.

Had it been the other way around, at least when planning the second round of the SLPL, getting the monies pumped in by outsiders or locals and running the show themselves, would have been a win, win situation for the SLC, spectators and cricket as a whole.

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