Sri Lanka Cricket has signed a new deal with Somerset Entertainment Ventures to hold the Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) in 2012, ESPNcricinfo has learned. The deal was signed on May 5 and the tournament has been tentatively scheduled to be held between August 10 and August 31, just ahead of the ICC World Twenty20 that will be held in Sri Lanka in September.
The SLPL was supposed to kick off last year, with SLC's then interim committee signing a five-year deal with Somerset Entertainment Ventures to organise the event. However, the Sri Lankan board was forced to postpone the tournament after the BCCI refused to allow its players to participate at the last minute, causing a delay in the naming of the final composition of the teams and affecting overall preparations for the event. In addition, the interim committee that signed the deal was subsequently replaced and there was criticism of some of the clauses in the contract by the parliamentary Committee on Public Enterprises (COPE).
A new set of administrators were elected in January and they have been negotiating with Somerset Entertainment Ventures to resolve their differences. The new deal has addressed the concerns raised by the COPE report and has been cleared by the office of the Sri Lankan attorney general, ESPNcricinfo understands.
The format of the tournament remains the same. SLPL will have seven teams that will play each other in a league format followed by semi-finals and finals. The games will most likely be played in Colombo and Kandy. Last year's event was scheduled to kick off on July 19, 2011, with the final to be played on August 6. The tournament hit its first hurdle when the BCCI decided to withhold its permission to allow Indian players to take part on the grounds that Somerset Entertainment Ventures, which owned the commercial rights, would be handling the contracts for international players and that it could lead to complications, should disputes arise over payments.
In order to assuage the Indian board, SLC was willing to back the Indian players' contracts so that their financial interests were protected, but that was not enough to satisfy the BCCI. There were also suggestions that former IPL chairman Lalit Modi had a hand in the event, but SLC and Somerset Entertainment Ventures repeatedly denied them, as did Modi.
Tariq Engineer is a senior sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo