The bailout package? October 26, 2008

Discussions on BCCI-SLC deal still on - officials

It has been reported that the BCCI is not keen is going ahead with the deal as long as Arjuna Ranatunga is chairman of Sri Lanka Cricket © AFP

The fate of the US$70 million deal between the BCCI and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) has become a matter of intense speculation; however, official negotiators from both sides continue to insist the ten-year arrangement is very much in place and is currently in the "discussion stage". Indian board officials said the deal is not a bailout package from the BCCI or IPL for Sri Lanka but part of a "revenue-sharing arrangement" offered by the Champions Twenty20 League to all participating nations.

A series of news reports from Sri Lanka over the last week suggested top Indian officials told the Sri Lankan delegation during a meeting in Bangkok that they would not move forward on the deal as long as Arjuna Ranatunga was in charge of SLC. However, Indian officials associated with the discussions said no such statement was made, at least during official discussions.

Neither board was willing to officially comment on the matter. Duleep Mendis, the SLC chief executive, told Cricinfo the issue was being handled by the sports ministry while Niranjan Shah, the IPL vice-chairman, said details of the deal were only a matter of speculation.

Graeme Labrooy, secretary of the Sri Lanka Cricketers' Association, which played a vital role in negotiating the package, said the deal was still on though some "technical issues" needed to be sorted out. "A US$70m offer over a ten-year period cannot be finalised at one meeting," Labrooy said. "We need to look at the international cricket calendar and see what windows are open to us to fit in our programmes. There are some technical issues that we need to look into before finalising such a deal."

A senior Indian official agreed with Labrooy's assessment, but gave a completely different twist to the deal. "The common misconception has been that this is a bailout package from the BCCI for Sri Lanka cricket, or the IPL," the official said. "But that's simply not true.

"Australia and South Africa, which are sending two teams for the Champions League, are likely to get amounts in the region of $150m and $120m for ten years, from the $975m that the tournament is worth," the official said. "Now Sri Lanka has been invited to take part from next year, and will send one team and hence gets a lesser amount. There will be similar deals with all participating countries, be it England, West Indies or Pakistan." The official described the Bangkok meeting as "normal" and added that "nothing was said against any Lankan official during the official negotiations."

The BCCI holds a 50% share in the tournament, which is expected to feature a Sri Lankan domestic team from next year. However, sources in Sri Lanka insisted that the Indian officials expressed disappointment at the "attitude" of Ranatunga, who had described the Twenty20 cricket as "instant noodles" and later attributed India's defeat during a recent Test series in Sri Lanka to a Twenty20 overdose. The Indian officials told the Lankan delegation in Bangkok the "deal is out because we understand that your chairman is trying to take the credit for it", the sources said. The BCCI was also irked by Ranatunga's comment during the recent ICC meeting in Dubai that the deal was an "endeavour to buy over Sri Lanka cricket", the sources said.

Lalit Modi, the IPL chairman, Niranjan Shah and N Srinivasan, the BCCI secretary, are understood to have conveyed these views in Bangkok last Sunday to the Lankan delegation that comprised S Liyanagama, the Sports Minister's secretary, Duleep Mendis, Sidath Wettimuny, SLC's interim committee member, and Labrooy.

Liyanagama is expected to convey the results of this meeting to Gamini Lokuge, Sri Lanka's sports minister, who had initiated discussions on this deal with the Indian board.

Ajay Shankar is deputy editor of Cricinfo