Minister offers cash to crisis-hit BCCSL

Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2001, 20:59 [IST]
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Colombo: Sri Lanka on Tuesday offered financial assistance to its crisis-ridden Board, whose problems have escalated with the suspension of its bank accounts pending a legal challenge to an interim management team. Sports Ministry Secretary P Ramanujam said they were prepared to fund the Board of Control for Cricket in Sri Lanka (BCCSL) in the interest of cricket. The BCCSL went into a spin on Monday when the Colombo Commercial High Court ordered that the team, appointed by Sports Minister Lakshman Kiriella in March, should not operate its bank accounts. It ordered the accounts be frozen until a further court decision after the case is taken up on June 1. "Just because one person has gone to court we can't allow cricket to suffer," Ramanujam said, adding that they were hopeful of mounting a counter challenge to the latest court order and free up the bank accounts. He said the ministry will "somehow find the money" necessary to maintain the BCCSL following the court order freezing its bank accounts. The interim panel recently announced that they were carrying out an audit to find out how much money was in the kitty when the previous committee was sacked in March. The freezing of the accounts will have an immediate impact on the salary payments to BCCSL staff and its day-to-day functioning as well as on the upcoming tri-nation tournament involving India and New Zealand. The latest challenge was launched by the former head of the BCCSL, Thilanga Sumathipala, who was sacked with all the Board's office bearers by the minister, who alleged that they had violated the Sports Law of the country. The minister charged that the sacked Board did not submit its accounts a month ahead of its annual meet, as required, and presented the accounts only two weeks before the annual general meeting. Later, the minister appointed an interim panel, against whom the former Board members filed the court action. Sumathipala said the Colombo Commercial court ruling had vindicated his stand and he was pressing the authorities to restore democratic elections and have a new committee appointed to run the BCCSL. "All I am saying is that the BCCSL must be run by its own members elected at an election and not by an interim panel appointed by one individual," Sumathipala said. The minister had charged there were financial irregularities under Sumathipala's management, which saw the construction of a new international cricket stadium in the north-central region of Dambulla. Sumathipala has denied any wrong doing and his committee has filed several cases against their sacking as well as the interim panel that replaced them. AFP

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