Peter Della Penna is ESPNcricinfo's USA correspondent @PeterDellaPenna
The inaugural season of the Euro T20 Slam has been cancelled, just two weeks before the tournament had been scheduled to start.
Speculation had been rampant of late that the tournament could be cancelled and that turned into reality on Wednesday evening as tournament organisers, led by Gurmeet Singh's Bombay Sports Limited and Woods Entertainment, the same group in charge of the Global T20 Canada, had run into increasing financial difficulties in recent weeks.
A player protest at the Global T20 Canada occurred on August 7 over unpaid wages, bringing the organisers under intense pressure. Sources have also stated that some player salaries and Player-of-the-Match award prize payments as well as vendors and event contractors from the 2018 edition of the tournament have still gone unpaid.
On the back of the Global T20 Canada final on Sunday, financial and logistical issues continued to mount for the Euro T20 Slam leading to an emergency board meeting on August 13 between organisers and the sponsoring member boards of Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland and the KNCB of the Netherlands to address concerns held by the three host boards. Multiple sources confirmed to ESPNcricinfo on August 14 that the projected logistical-cost overruns of having to build temporary stadium seating and broadcast facilities at three venues in three countries were a key factor in the tournament being scrapped.
The tournament's organisers released a statement saying that "the board of the Euro T20 Slam, funding partners and franchise owners of this exciting new T20 tournament have reluctantly come to the decision that staging of the event will not be possible in 2019", but did not expand upon the specifics behind the decision. The league tweeted a later statement citing "unforeseen circumstances".
Various marquee players had been drafted to play in the league, including Rashid Khan, Eoin Morgan, Dale Steyn, Babar Azam and Faf du Plessis. According to multiple sources, players from the three host nations were told as early as Tuesday that the tournament was likely to be cancelled, as well as event vendors including television production staff. But it is understood that most overseas players had been unaware of the tournament's cancellation before the statement was issued.
Hours earlier, both Peter Trego and Ben Cutting - who had been signed by the Rotterdam and Amsterdam franchises respectively - had tweeted about preparations for the tournament. The Euro T20 Slam's official account tweeted only six hours before the cancellation was confirmed that Ross Taylor had signed as a replacement player.
The dates for the Euro T20 Slam had been in direct competition with the Caribbean Premier League, with the latter due to start on September 4. Many marquee players who were CPL representatives in the past several years - including Rashid Khan, Shane Watson, Imran Tahir, Martin Guptill, Chris Lynn and Luke Ronchi - and who had submitted their names for both the CPL and Euro T20 Slam drafts this year, eventually opted to withdraw from CPL consideration to commit to the Euro T20 Slam.
Warren Deutrom, the chief executive of Cricket Ireland, said the board was "deeply disappointed".
"However, we fully empathise with the rationale that has led to the tournament's postponement," Deutrom said. "The excitement and energy that the Euro T20 Slam had generated since it was announced has demonstrated a high level of interest amongst the Irish public in seeing world-class cricket hosted here in Ireland. We hope that the interest will carry on until 2020 when the Slam will finally get underway.
"We will continue to engage with the event organisers to ensure all commitments are met to their fullest extent, including any receivables owing to Cricket Ireland itself. We will additionally be seeking increased comfort that the organisers will be able to avoid a repeat of this year's challenges in future editions."
Malcolm Cannon, the chief executive of Cricket Scotland, said: "While this was a very difficult decision to make at this late stage, we believe that it is the right one and one which leaves us with a great opportunity to launch the Euro T20 Slam next year with its deserved noise level."
Betty Timmer, chair of the KNCB, said: "It is extremely disappointing that the Euro T20 Slam is not going ahead in 2019. With the scheduled opening games only two weeks away the KNCB was looking forward to this exciting new event that would have brought cricket much closer to the Dutch fans."