The inaugural edition of the Lanka Premier League (LPL) once again finds in controversy as the league is yet to receive permission from the Ministry of Health. The 14-day quarantine rule has been a major reason for foreign players pulling out of the tournament. It is also playing as an obstacle for broadcast crews and commentators that are set to feature in the tournament.
Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) had already postponed and rescheduled the league twice since May. The cricket board was hoping to start the league from November 21. There is a possibility that the tournament will now be shifted out of Sri Lanka.
The LPL will be 23-days long tournament starting from November 21 until December 13. SLC has made the arrangements for a 14-days quarantine period for the overseas players. The foreign players would have to begin the quarantine period from November 4 for the scheduled commencement of the tournament.
LPL’s commercial partners Innovative Production Group are also under the spotlight due to delay in the payment of fees. The IPG group owns a team in the league. They have also bagged the ground and television rights of the event.
The SLC had signed a five-year deal with IPG. As part of the deal, IPG had to pay a sum of $ 1,920,000 annually for the first two years of the deal. They agreed to increase it by 10% for each subsequent year. At present, the IPG is yet to settle a balance worth US$ 1,775,000.
In a chat with ESPN Cricinfo, LPL director Ravin Wickramaratne said, “Before 4 November all the players have to be in Sri Lanka, otherwise we have no option but to put back the tournament at least by one week. Then we might have to check players’ availability again, but it is only seven days that we will have to postpone.”
Wickramaratne admitted that the priority remains to conduct the tournament in Sri Lanka at three different stadiums. They are also open to playing at a single venue, while the final option is to move the league to a different country, such as UAE, Malaysia.