Economic downturn takes its toll January 19, 2009

Sri Lanka Cricket faces sponsor crisis

Cricinfo staff

Sri Lanka's cash-strapped board is facing more problems after sports minister Gamini Lokuge admitted that sponsors were deserting cricket as a result of the global downturn.

"The global economic crunch and the economic slowdown in Sri Lanka has had an impact on companies coming forward to sponsor our national team," Lokuge said. "It's a shame. We have a full calendar of games this year."

Dilmah, who had been national team sponsors for the last three years, declined to renew when their contract expired, and there has been a lack of interest in replacing them. Sri Lanka's biggest mobile operator Dialog Telekom signed an US$89,000 deal to sponsor the side on a three-month trial basis, with a spokesman saying that there was an option to extend the deal "if the business climate improves and our team performs well in the upcoming tours".

The forthcoming tour by India will help the board. Clothing manufacturers MAS Holdings will continue its sponsorship until the end of March in a deal worth almost US$300,000, while SLC seeks broadcast rights for the series.