Andrew Fidel Fernando is ESPNcricinfo's Sri Lanka correspondent. He tweets here
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The Sri Lanka Premier League (SLPL) has been scrapped in favour of a short domestic Twenty20 tournament for the second consecutive year, after SLC failed to attract meaningful commercial interest in the tournament. The SLPL has failed to materialise in three of the four years since it had been announced, crashing most dramatically in 2013, when each franchise was terminated after failing to pay the participation fee three weeks before the tournament was scheduled to begin.
After that cancellation, SLC had hoped to draw up a more lucrative business model alongside Hong Kong-based commercial partner Somerset Entertainment Ventures (SEV), but despite several meetings that goal remains unrealised.
"Since terminating the contracts of seven franchise owners we have tried to revive the tournament, but there has been no response from the promotions partner," SLPL director Ajit Jayasekara told Ceylon Today. "Beside there's no window left due to South Africa's visit in July and Sri Lanka A team's tour of England later that month."
Last year's SLPL had been replaced by a week-long Super Fours tournament, which produced the Kandurata Maroons team that played in the Champions League. "We are in the process of organising the Super Fours on a grand scale this year," Jayasekara said. "Obviously there will not be any foreign players, but we will have all local stars - the national team and the A team players in action. It can be a short tournament - we can finish it in about six to eight days."
South Africa this week confirmed a two-Test tour of Sri Lanka in July this year, and the Sri Lanka A team is expected to leave for a tour of England and Ireland shortly after that tour ends. While the A team tour had been in the works for some time, South Africa's revised Test tour is believed to have been advanced to 2014, only after it had become clear the SLPL would not materialise this year.
Jayasekara said a third cancellation did not necessarily sound a death-knell for the SLPL concept. "We have to go through a fresh process - getting advertisers and getting people to apply for franchises. That is a time-consuming thing. We're hoping SEV will come up with a plan - maybe for a scaled down version - and try to revive the SLPL."
The only SLPL tournament that did materialise, in 2012, had been a mild cricketing success, but it had been poorly supported and had failed to convince franchise owners that they would eventually break even in subsequent years. At least one franchise owner had also seemingly corrupt intentions, having told an SLPL captain that franchises could only make money from the tournament if spot fixing occurred. The player immediately relayed this to the ICC's anti-corruption unit.