Hunt is on for sponsor as Sixes gets green light

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Hong Kong Cricket Association has bitten the bullet and decided to continue with the Hong Kong Sixes this year.

The tournament didn't have a title sponsor in 2008 and left the association HK$1.8 million in the red, raising fears it would not be held this year. But the HKCA's executive committee has given the green light despite the recession.

'The Sixes is an important component of the promotion of cricket in Hong Kong,' said HKCA treasurer Dinesh Tandon. 'We've done our sums and this decision gives confidence to the market about the Sixes and allows us to proceed confidently with the organisation of the tournament.'

Sixes tournament director Mark Burns said discussions were already being held with a number of potential title sponsors for the October 31-November 1 event.

'The Sixes is a world event in Hong Kong and a superb platform for corporates keen to promote their brands,' Burns said. 'We are talking to a number of people and hopefully will have someone lined up soon.

'Everyone knows the international calendar is busy and it was important we kept going. We would have run the risk of being left behind and facing the prospect of having to raise our profile once again.'

The HKCA will again apply to the government's M-Mark scheme for major sporting events. Last year they were given HK$3 million. This year they are in line for HK$2 million.

'We will ask for this money. It is nice to have it in the back pocket, but if we have sufficient sponsorship we won't need the government grant,' Burns said.

He confirmed that measures would be taken to cut costs - one of which was the possibility of the All-Stars not playing this year.

'The All Stars started in 2007 and brought cachet to this tournament. One option of reducing costs would be not to bring them back this year,' Burns said. 'We might not have an All-Star team, but we will definitely have the stars. Already a number of big-name players have said they would like to come to Hong Kong.'

Among them are two of last year's All-Stars - former Australian test opener Justin Langer and ex-New Zealand captain Stephen Fleming - as well as former Australian wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist.

'We have not finalised the format of the competition yet. We don't know if it will be eight teams again, or who will be playing. But England will be back to defend their title as well as Australia, who reached the final last year,' Burns said.

Organisers are also looking at reducing the prices of tickets. A two-day ticket cost HK$780 last year, resulting in a lot of empty spaces at Kowloon Cricket Club.

A three-year television deal with Taj TV of Dubai for its TenSports channel will guarantee the event is seen live by millions around the world.

'Last year 80 million people watched the tournament live in India, Australia and South Africa. We are guaranteed this exposure again and we are also talking to a local broadcaster to show the event here,' Burns added.

Down the gurgler

Amount the HKCA lost at the Sixes last year (HK$): 1.8m