The Sunday Leader

Millions ‘Spent’ To Upgrade ‘Rejected’ Facilities

  • Colombo Cricket Club

    Yet another Cricket Board scam…

by Nirmala Kannangara

Yet another Cricket Board scam has now come to the fore, this time how Sri Lanka Cricket had released several millions of rupees to upgrade infrastructure facilities at Colombo Cricket Club which is headed by none other than their Treasurer.

Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) was selected to hold one of the warm-up matches during the Australian Tour in July/August and Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) was to release necessary funds to upgrade the infrastructure facilities. However after touring Sri Lanka by the officials at Cricket Australia prior to the tour, they (Cricket Australia) informed SLC that they do not want their players to play at CCC due to poor ground conditions. Hence there wasn’t any necessity for SLC to release funds to CCC to upgrade the infrastructure facilities.

Since the Chairman CCC is the Treasurer of SLC, the Cricket Board still went ahead with its initial plans and released Rs. 3.947 million stating in the invoice that the payment is being made to provide infrastructure facilities in view of the Australian Tour.

Although the misuse of Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) funds and the malpractices taking place there and how the contracts of some of its long standing employees have not been renewed as part of a witch hunting had been highlighted in media over the past several months, no action has been taken against Cricket Board officials.

“It is up to the Prime Minister of the good governance administration to see what is happening at SLC and take immediate action to stop the frauds that are taking place,” an official from the Ministry of Sports said on condition of anonymity.

According to sources, the Sports Ministry is inundated with complaints against SLC but although the Sports Minister is well aware of it, nothing can be expected from the Sports Minister as well.

“SLC has now become a den of corruption. That does not mean that the previous administrators were clean. They too were engaged in corruption. Former Secretary Nishantha Ranatunge was accused of releasing cricket board flood lights for Carlton races. Although these frauds too have been highlighted in the media, it is surprising as to why the rulers of this country is ignoring them and allow the fraudsters to continue in their frauds,” sources alleged.

SLC has released Rs. 3.947 million to the Gymkhana Club by cheque No. 655327 of Bank of Ceylon Borella Branch on April 22, 2016 to develop and upgrade infrastructure facilities in view of Australian tour of Sri Lanka.

Although the description of the payment in cheque payment voucher No. 1466 states as thus, questions have been raised as to why such a payment was made when Cricket Australia had informed SLC that they will not allow their players to play warm up matches at this venue as it was totally unsatisfactory to host an international cricket team.

In an e-mail to Chandima Mapatuna of SLC, Head of Cricket Operations, Cricket Australia, Sean Cary on March 11, 2016 had stated that Cricket Australia expresses serious concerns about the warm up matches to be played at the Colombo Cricket Club (CCC) and Asgiriya International Stadium as both venues were totally unsatisfactory to host an international cricket team.  Hence Cricket Australia had declined to play the warm up matches at CCC and Asgiriya International Stadium but had stated that they were willing to play either at P. Sara Stadium or at SSC or R. Premadasa stadium.

The e-mail which had been copied to Ashley, Pat Howard, Adam Fraser and Graham Manou further states: ‘Dear Chandima, Firstly thank you very much for your hospitality and around our recent pre tour recce. Secondly, as discussed with you whilst we were in Sri Lanka, Cricket Australia (CA) formally expresses serious concerns around the two proposed warm up matches being played at CCC and Asgiriya International Stadium in Kandy. The view of the CA recce team was that both stadiums were totally unsatisfactory to host an international cricket team, especially for such an important test series’.

In regard to the CCC venue the e-mail further stated, that the outfield was rough and uneven in many areas and presented significant risk to player safety, while the practice wickets were not of a standard suitable for an international cricket team. The change rooms were being upgraded. However, the venue is not an ICC accredited venue.

The e-mail further stated, ‘In addition, I have received communication from the Australian Cricketers’ Association (ACA) representative Graham Manou, with regard to the proposed warm up venues who stated that the Trinity College ground in Kandy and the CCC are not satisfactory warm up venues for the Australian cricket team and for occupational, health and safety reasons the ACA will not allow the players to play on these grounds during the tour of Sri Lanka’.

‘Chandima, I understand there are plans for upgrades to both these stadiums. However it is our professional view that (especially at Asgiriya) there is not sufficient time to bring these two venues up to the required international standards. I would also like to point out that the last time Sri Lanka toured Australia, the 3-day warm up match was played at Manuka Oval in Canberra, which is an exceptional cricket stadium and is a fully accredited ICC international venue. ACA does not wish to play at either of these stadiums for their warm up matches and our preference venues are – P. Sara Stadium (3-day warm up match), SSC (2-day warm up match) or R. Premadasa Stadium (2 or 3-day warm up match). All three venues are ICC accredited and present appropriate warm up match conditions and facilities for visiting international teams. With regard to the other stadiums in the current schedule, CA is very happy with both the on-field and off-field facilities. Kind regards, Sean’.

Although Chandima Mapatuna forwarded this e-mail to Jayantha Dharmadasa (Vice President), Mohan de Silva (Secretary), Ravin Wickremaratne (Assistant Secretary), Shammi Silva (Treasurer) and six others on the same day, which too is in the possession of this newspaper, it is astonishing to note how SLC still released this money to upgrade the infrastructure facilities ‘in view of Australian Tour of Sri Lanka’.

“Neither the Secretary nor the Treasurer SLC say that they were not aware of Cricket Australia’s decision not to play one of the warm up matches at CCC as Mapatuna very rightly had forwarded the e-mail to a few SLC office bearers including Secretary Mohan de Silva and Treasurer Shammi Silva. Despite this, the Cricket Board released Rs. 3.947 million to Gymkhana Club as it is headed by Shammi Silva,” sources from SLC said.

Meanwhile sources from the Gymkhana Club who wished to remain anonymous told this newspaper that the said cheque was deposited to the club account – Sampath Bank Gregory’s Road branch on April 25, 2016.

The SLC payment voucher, to the tune of Rs.3.947 million had been signed by Secretary SLC, Mohan de Silva and another unidentified official and the cheque had been issued to Manager Gymkhana Club on the request of Shammi Silva. The SLC sources who wished to remain anonymous meanwhile queried as to why the cash strapped Cricket Board was so generous to make such a large payment by misleading SLC employees.

“Shammi Silva is the Chairman of Gymkhana Club under which Colombo Cricket Club (CCC), Colombo Hokey and Football Club (CH & FC) and the Queen’s Club functions. When Cricket Australia had clearly stated that they will not allow their players to play the warm up matches at this venue, and this message had been forwarded to SLC Secretary Mohan de Silva and Treasurer Shammi Silva, it was one of these officials that had approved the payment voucher,” sources added.

Meanwhile the Gymkhana Club sources said as to how the club management has so far failed to develop or upgrade infrastructure facilities at CCC.

“The money received from the Cricket Board was deposited at Sampath Bank Gregory’s Road branch on April 25, 2016 but yet to develop or upgrade the CCC over the past seven months. Although the club management did not want to use the money received from SLC to develop infrastructure facilities, they were very enthusiastic to sign an illegal agreement with a property developer to construct a commercial and an apartment complex in the guise of an office for administrative work and an indoor cricket complex including two indoor cricket pitches and a dormitory.

Although there were two injunction orders against Gymkhana Club to hold Annual General Meeting and even a Special General Meeting to prevent this agreement signed, the Club Chairman held an Ex co meeting and got the membership consent to sign the agreement. If Chairman Shammi Silva could spend his time to sign this illegal agreement, without obtaining the land owner – Commissioner General of Lands approval, why couldn’t he spent the money he got from SLC and upgrade the infrastructure facilities even for the CCC players betterment,” sources alleged.

 

Comments by Ashanthai Warunasuriya

Since Secretary, SLC, Mohan de Silva was not contactable, a text message was sent seeking a comment for the allegations levelled against SLC. Responding to the text message, De Silva replied stating that there is no necessity to make a comment as he had made a comment to The Sunday Leader on the same subject few months ago.

“Sorry Ashanthi, I have given my comments with regard to the said matter long time ago which had already been published in your newspaper. As such, I don’t think it’s necessary for me to comment again,” De Silva stated in his reply.

However when told that our records do not show that we have carried an article earlier nor De Silva had given a comment, De Silva further replied stating that he made a comment during the Australian tour in July.

“If I remember right it was somewhere in July during the Australian tour. Nirmali called and got my clarification,” he further stated.

 

 

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