By Dinouk Colombage
World Cup Organising Committee Chief Suraj Dandeniya speaking to The Sunday Leader dismissed allegations that Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was facing bankruptcy. He insisted that once the International Cricket Council (ICC) gives SLC their hosting fees the debts will be repaid.
Suspicions over Sri Lanka Cricket facing a hefty debt were confirmed on Tuesday by Sports Minister, Mahindananda Aluthgamage. Reports emerged that SLC was facing debts amounting to US$ 23 million.
Aluthgamage explained that the construction of new stadiums for the World Cup have left Sri Lanka Cricket with a Rs. 2.5 billion deficit. The construction of two new stadiums at Hambantota and Pallekele along with reconstruction of the Premadasa Stadium saw total expenses skyrocket to $ 45 million.
Furthermore, the governing body was forced to pledge the new stadiums, along with funds raised from upcoming tours as collateral to pay for the extravagant tournament.
Aluthgamage, speaking to the media, expressed his confidence that despite the heavy debt there was no cause to panic. ‘Building new stadiums cost lots of money. You must look at it as an investment for the future development of the game.’ He explained that $45 million was spent on the construction of the three new stadiums.
SLC Treasurer, Sujeewa Rajapaksa explained that during the tournament the Board was forced to take a $ 21.5 million loan from the Bank of Ceylon and a further $ 3.5 million loan from the International Cricket Council. However, in return the ICC still has to pay SLC $ 25 million for having hosted the matches during the tournament. Rajapaksa assured the public that once these funds are received they will be able to repay the debts facing the SLC.
The Sunday Leader spoke to Suraj Dandeniya prior to this announcement about speculation surrounding the possibility of SLC facing bankruptcy. He explained that with all major tournaments immediately afterwards it would appear that there is a massive debt. However, once the total profits for the tournament are received by the SLC there will be no further debt. He assured The Sunday Leader that the tournament remained within the original budget.
The growing debt is just another crisis to hit Sri Lanka Cricket, as the team continues to await the appointment of a new captain, vice-captain and coach.