WC leaves Lanka in $23m debt

Sri Lanka Cricket is saddled with a $23 million debt after cost overruns and hefty bills incurred building stadiums for the recent World Cup.

"We spent a lot of money to host the World Cup, to build two stadiums and rebuild one stadium. The World Cup left us a 2.5 billion rupee deficit," Sports Minister Mahindananda Aluthgamage told reporters.

Sri Lanka, which lost the final to India by six wickets, hosted 12 matches during the World Cup, with others held in India and Bangladesh.

The island nation built two new grounds in the southern town of Hambantota and the central town of Pallekele, while nearly $8 million was spent to renovate the Colombo-based R. Premadasa stadium.

"We spent about five billion rupees ($45 million) to build the three World Cup venues," Aluthgamage said.

The minister said the governing body was forced to pledge the newly built stadiums, along with income from upcoming tours, as collateral to raise funds to pay for the lavish tournament that ended on April 2.

"We are not in a serious cash crisis," Aluthgamage said. "Building new stadiums costs a lot of money. You must look at it as an investment for the future development of the game."

Sri Lanka Cricket treasurer Sujeewa Rajapakse said the board took a $21.5 million loan from state-run Bank of Ceylon and another $3.5 million loan from the International Cricket Council (ICC) to tide them over the shortfall.

"We are expecting $25 million from the ICC soon, by way of hosting rights. Once that comes, we can sort things out," Rajapakse said.

Sri Lanka is to face England, Australia, Pakistan and South Africa this year, and is also due to host the World Twenty20 championships in 2012.

Sri Lanka won its sole World Cup in 1996 and emerged finalists in 2007.

Since losing the final to India, the team's captain, vice-captain and selectors have quit, while head coach Trevor Bayliss also ended his contract to take up his old job at New South Wales.


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