Colombo: Sri Lanka Cricket has admitted that India's decision to withdraw its players from the Sri Lanka Premier League effectively pulled the plug on the tournament.
"Honestly, we are finding it difficult to have the Premier League without India's support," SLC spokesman Brian Thomas told cricket365.com. "We can't get into more debt."
Thomas' confirmation came after two South African players linked to the tournament - Herschelle Gibbs and Davy Jacobs - told ESPNcricinfo that they had been informed of the one-year deferral. On Friday, the agent for Lonwabo Tsotosbe said he'd received similar information from Somerset Entertainment Ventures, the league's organisers.
India's boycott deprived the tournament of a broadcaster for the lucrative Indian market, making it unviable at a time when SLC is going through financial instability. Adding to the sense of confusion was last week's dissolution of the SLC committee that had created the tournament, and its replacement by a new panel.
Consequently, the tournament's inaugural edition has been pushed to August 2012, following a meeting between the new committee and Somerset. In its place, SLC will conduct the regular inter-provincial Twenty20 tournament featuring five domestic sides without involving foreign players, with the winner becoming eligible for the Champions League in September.
Meanwhile the SLC will continue to lobby the BCCI for Indian participation in next year's event. Thomas said the country's cricket authorities were hopeful of reaching an agreement with India on the issue.
The SLPL ran into trouble when BCCI withheld its permission on the grounds that Somerset, which owned the commercial rights, would be handling the contracts for international players and that could lead to complications should disputes arise over payments. The SLC was willing to back the Indian players' contracts so that their financial interests were protected, but that was not enough to satisfy the BCCI. There have been suggestions that former IPL chairman Lalit Modi had a hand in the event, but SLC and Somerset repeatedly denied the allegation, as did Modi.
The Indian board's stand - which marked a U-turn of sorts after an initial green signal - was contrary to that of the boards of Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Pakistan, all of whom extended their support to the tournament. Tim May, the chief executive of Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA), had also backed the event.