Sri Lanka news December 12, 2013

SLC looks to secure $8 million ICC loan

Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) is currently in talks with the ICC about securing a US $8 million interest-free loan from the game's governing body, SLC secretary, Nishantha Ranatunga, has said. If granted, the loan would be used to settle most of the $10.1 million SLC owes the state-owned Bank of Ceylon. The board pays around 6.5% interest on this loan.

SLC had initially made the request around six months ago, an official said, and the ICC has since asked the board to provide a report on its assets and financial liabilities, as it considers granting the loan. The ICC declined to comment on the request.

"We have asked for a loan of $8 million to settle our loans with Bank of Ceylon," Ranatunga said. "We have a meeting with the ICC in late January, in Dubai, so we'll have to wait and see what their response is. So far it has been positive."

ICC has already provided financial aid to SLC in the past when it disbursed $2.5 million to the board in order to help meet operational costs ahead of the World Twenty20. Of that sum, $1 million was a straight loan and $500,000 was a string-free grant, according to SLC officials.

SLC treasurer, Nuski Mohamed, said the board had initially owed close to $22.5 million to Bank of Ceylon as part of the huge debts incurred during construction of two new stadiums ahead of the 2011 World Cup. He said the board has since repaid over $12 million from that amount.

The board also officially owes at least $4.2 million to the government's State Engineering Corporation, but SLC has made a request to the Sri Lankan government to wipe that debt. However, the government has recently appeared reluctant to clear SLC's debt using public funds, with minister Wimal Weerawansa branding the board a "strain on the country".

"The ICC wanted some details about the stadia construction," Mohamed said. "The government put in some money, so they have asked for the details about those various things. The ICC want to make sure that SLC won't be called upon to pay these construction costs."

"The government has verbally said that they will not [ask SLC to pay the debt to the State Engineering Corporation], but we don't have anything in writing."

SLC will also likely discuss the possibility of the ICC moving its headquarters to Sri Lanka at the meeting in January. The ICC is currently considering the relocation of its offices from Dubai as it appraises its location in light of the approaching expiry of its current commercial deal in 2017.

SLC's executive committee had proposed the ICC move to Sri Lanka, with the Sri Lankan government also recently unveiling a tax break for any international sporting body that would establish headquarters in the country, ostensibly as a ploy to lure the ICC. The ICC had initially moved to Dubai, largely to save on taxes. "We have shown interest in having the ICC move here, and we are preparing a document that will show all that we can offer," Ranatunga said.

Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here