Sri Lanka news July 24, 2011

Sri Lanka Cricket to cut down staff

In an effort to cut costs, Sri Lanka Cricket's new interim committee, headed by Upali Dharmadasa, has decided to cut down on the staff at SLC headquarters in Colombo. The board has been in a financial crisis since the 2011 World Cup, for which they built two new stadiums, at Hambantota and Pallekele. When the new committee was appointed on July 1, the main task Sri Lanka's sports minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage set for them was to keep an eye on the board's finances.

"Presently we intend to cut the staff at Sri Lanka Cricket headquarters from 82 to 50," Dharmadasa said. "Our target is to eventually minimise it to 30 employees, which will still be more than enough to run cricket.

"I don't want to touch the rest of the staff employed in various parts of the country because there is an Australia tour coming up next month and an inter-provincial Twenty20 tournament currently on. We don't want to upset the mechanism at present but I will personally visit the various international venues during the Australia tour and see for myself whether the staff that has been recruited at these venues is in excess and needs to be curtailed.

"We need a minimum of only ten persons at SLC headquarters to run the Australia tour if we leave the organisation of the matches outside Colombo to the respective associations of each venue - Pallekele, Hambantota and Galle. The associations attached to SLC have already indicated to me that they are willing to do it on a voluntary basis."

The interim committee will also re-evaluate the benefits given to employees, and Dharmadasa pointed out the excess expenditure on board officials' hotel rooms during the World Cup.

"During the World Cup, officials of Sri Lanka Cricket used single rooms at costly hotels leading to unwanted wastage. For the Australia tour we have been reasonable with our hotel bookings and officials will share rooms instead. We want to create a platform that can be used as a guideline next year when Sri Lanka hosts the ICC World Twenty20 tournament."

There will also be a reduction on other overheads, including office equipment like colour printers. The World Cup had left Sri Lanka Cricket in debt to the tune of $23 million thanks to cost overruns and heavy expenses incurred in building the stadiums, and the board had to ask for a grant from the Sri Lanka government. Consequently, they slashed their budget for the series against Australia, which includes three Tests, five ODIs and two Twenty20 internationals.

"From the original budget of 371 million Sri Lankan rupees we brought it first down to 276 million rupees and then cut it down further to 239 million rupees," Dharmadasa said. He expected a profit of 343 million Sri Lankan rupees from the Australia tour by way of television rights, ticket sales, corporate boxes etc.

Dharmadasa said he and Prakash Shaffter, the secretary of the interim committee, would handle the administration side of SLC while Nimal Perera would handle finance and Sidath Wettimuny, the former Sri Lanka batsman, would take charge of the cricket.