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Cricket news - Inaugural Euro T20 Slam cancelled
The inaugural season of the Euro T20 Slam, a new franchise league that was set to launch this summer, will not be going ahead, it was confirmed on Wednesday (August 14).
A collaborative venture between Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland, the Netherlands' KNCB and commercial partners GS Holdings, the Euro T20 Slam was scheduled to kick off in Amsterdam in just a fortnight's time, but instead has become the third T20 franchise league to be cancelled or postponed in the space of a year, following the UAE's T20X competition which was cancelled in November, and the Hong Kong Blitz, which faces an uncertain future after the 2019 edition was first postponed and then cancelled entirely.
Prashant Mishra, ET20S Board Member and Managing Partner at Woods Entertainment, said: "The Board of the Euro T20 Slam, funding partners and franchise owners of this exciting new T20 tournament have reluctantly come to the decision that staging of the event will not be possible in 2019.
We will work with the three cricket boards, our principal investors, the franchise owners, players and other stakeholders within the game to ensure we fulfil any commitments we have made to the extent possible. We want to ensure the goodwill and integrity that we have built up rolls on into 2020."
Malcolm Cannon, Chief Executive of Cricket Scotland, said: "While this was a very difficult decision to make at this late stage, we believe that it is the right one and one which leaves us with a great opportunity to launch the Euro T20 Slam next year with its deserved noise level."
The Slam's postponement follows a high profile wage dispute at its sister league last week, with a second round match at the Global T20 in Canada being delayed by almost two hours as players refused to take the field until an agreed portion of their wages had been paid. The two leagues share the same backers in GS Holdings, parent to Mercuri and Bombay Sports Limited, as well as a degree of overlap in franchise ownership.
The European league was to have seen six sides representing Dublin, Belfast, Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Glasgow and Edinburgh play out a double round robin competition followed by finals over the course of three weeks, with the first round of matches played in Amsterdam starting the 31st of August, before the competition moved on, first to Edinburgh and then Dublin for the final round of matches and finals.
The league had announced the signing of such players as Rashid Khan, Eoin Morgan, Shane Watson, Shahid Afridi and Brendan McCullum, whilst the draft held in London last month saw a wide array of international stars picked up, with the likes of Colin Ingram, Tymal Mills, Corey Anderson, Sikandar Raza and Dale Steyn, amongst other, signing on for the competition.
The Slam suffered its first setbacks last week when McCullum pulled out of his commitment to turn out for the Glasgow Giants, announcing his retirement at the end of the GT20. Reports emerged that players at the Canadian league were unhappy with delayed payment of wages, staging a strike ahead of the second round clash between the Toronto Nationals and Montreal Tigers until they were satisfied. The game eventually went ahead, the tournament concluding on Monday with the Winnipeg Hawks besting defending champions the Vancouver Knights in a super over, but the European boards were sufficiently alarmed to request a meeting on the following day to air their concerns.
The exact reasons behind the postponement of the league are not yet clear, though the GT20 is understood to have run a loss somewhere in the region of 10 million dollars in its first season, and the European project was considerably more ambitious both in terms of logistics and payroll. The timeline to launch was also considerably more constricted, with the boards only reaching agreement late last year.
The failure of the launch leaves a gap in the schedules of Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands as they prepare for the T20 WC Qualifier to be held in the UAE in October, though the Netherlands and Ireland will be competing in a five-way T20 series in Oman along with the Oman, Nepal and Hong Kong from October 5th.
It is unclear whether the boards will receive their fees for hosting the tournament in the first year. Ireland, in line to receive the lion's share, are standing to lose a considerable sum if the organisers are unable to meet their obligations, further compounding their financial difficulties after they lost a "six figure sum" having been the victim of cyber-fraud earlier this year. The local players also stand to lose out, with the promised wages for the tournament for many constituting a substantial proportion of their expected annual earnings.
Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said: "We are deeply disappointed with the decision, however, fully empathise with the rationale that has led to the tournament's postponement. The excitement and energy that the Euro T20 Slam had generated since it was announced has demonstrated a high level of interest amongst the Irish public in seeing world-class cricket hosted here in Ireland.
"We hope that that interest will carry on until 2020 when the Slam will finally get underway. We will continue to engage with the event organisers to ensure all commitments are met to their fullest extent, including any receivables owing to Cricket Ireland itself. We will additionally be seeking increased comfort that the organisers will be able to avoid a repeat of this year's challenges in future editions."
Betty Timmer, Chair of KNCB, said: "As said, it is extremely disappointing that the Euro T20 Slam is not going ahead in 2019. With the scheduled opening games only two weeks away the KNCB was looking forward to this exciting new event that would have brought cricket much closer to the Dutch fans.
"The KNCB feels for everyone involved and for all the hard work that have put in by so many people in The Netherlands and the other countries. We give our full support and hope for a successful event next year."
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