Somerset Entertainment wins the Rights to develop Sri Lankan Cricket Premier League in collaborationwith Total Sports Asia
July 30th – Sri Lankan Cricket is set to get a boost with the sale of the Rights of its Inter-Provincial Cricket Tournament to Singapore-based Somerset Entertainment Ventures Pte Ltd. (SEV). The Tournament comprises all formats of Cricket, including the 4 days, Limited overs and T20 games and currently, has most of the top Sri Lankan cricketers from the national side participating in it each year representing various Provinces. The Tournament which was previously known as the Inter-Provincial Tournament, will now be renamed the “Sri Lanka Premier League” (SLPL).
SEV helmed by Chairman, Sandeep Bhammer, pools together individuals with strong business, sports-marketing and cricket experience. He is joined at the Board level by Chris McDonald, ex-head of Ten Sports, an experienced hand at building successful businesses around the game of cricket as well as Prof. Stefan Szymanski, one of the world’s leading sports economists and Director of Sports at the Cass Business School, City University, London. The Company engages in the business of providing sports and hospitality-focused, marketing and consultancy services. This acquisition provides SEV with all commercial Rights associated with the SLPL, and is a very important first step in the building of such a portfolio.
“SEV will now work closely with Sri Lanka Cricket to create a cricketing infrastructure in Sri Lanka which aims to be at par or better than the best leagues in the cricketing world while encouraging growth of cricket within Sri Lanka. As part of the agreement between SEV and SLC, a full-time committee will be formed with an equal number of members from both sides, who will strive to ensure that the quality of cricket in Sri Lanka keeps improving continuously. To best achieve this, we envisage inviting foreign players through their respective Boards, to participate in all the 3 formats of the SLPL. We hope to attract some of better known cricketers of international repute, subject to their availability, as well as specialist cricketers for each format to participate in the Tournament,” explained Bhammer.
The SEV board has worked with Prof. Stefan Szymanski, to understand and design the League which will incorporate all 3 versions of the game, rather than just one, into what is expected to be a very short cricketing calendar.
Kunal Bhargava, SEV’s Chief Operating Officer said that SEV had the Rights for a period of 5 years and have appointed Asia’s leading sports marketing agency, Total Sports Asia (TSA) as their representatives for all commercial arrangements based on their long standing relationships and excellent track record for being the best in the business.
“With this appointment, our aim is to revolutionize cricket in Sri Lanka and make domestic Sri Lankan cricket one of the most sought after Tournaments to watch out for around the world,“ said Total Sports Asia, CEO, Marcus Luer.
“With political stability having returned to Sri Lanka after 30 years, the government intends to rebuild the country’s reputation as a world class tourist destination. Given the passion for cricket in the country, the SLC believes it can contribute significantly to this objective by extensively promoting the sport on an international scale. Since 80% of Sri Lankan cricketers are from outside the capital city of Colombo, this Tournament will help us identify the next crop of talented cricketers from our Country. SEV shares our vision and commitment for the SLPL and therefore, we are delighted to team-up with them,” said Nishantha Ranatunga, Secretary of the Sri Lanka Cricket Board
The first of many such tournaments showcasing domestic Sri Lankan cricketing talent is the participation of the Wayamba 11s at the 2010 ICC Champions League to be held in South Africa this September. With telecasts across the globe via ESPN and Star Sports, along with the inclusion of a star-studded lineup of players such as Mahela Jayawardhene, Fervez Maharoof, Jehan Mubarak, Michael Vandort, Rangana Herath and Ajantha Mendis, the timing of the launch of the SLPL is near perfect.
Announcing its first calendar, the SLPL Tournaments, which are ICC sanctioned, will be played over two distinct periods each year, in December & January and in July & August. The 50 over and T20 formats will be played in December and January while the 4 day version will be played in July and August.
In order to avoid duplication and provide viewers and sponsors with a slightly different experience, the SEV-SLC team has strived to differentiate the SLPL from other leagues. For starters, SLPL will have 5 teams playing 3 formats for the top slot and not just the winner of any one particular format e.g. the T20 format. The idea behind this is to strike a good balance for current and future cricketers to showcase and nurture their talents across various formats. The ultimate winner of the SLPL will be that Provincial team which will accumulate the maximum number of points across the formats.