The Karp Group Hong Kong Sixes this year will feature fewer teams and be played over two days instead of three after organisers said it was 'too risky' to apply to the government's Mega Events Fund (MEF) for financial support.
'We have decided not to apply for money from the MEF because there has been no change to the funding policy plus the fact that applications only open next month,' Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman Dinesh Tandon (pictured) said. 'Applying to the MEF will put our cash flow under severe constraints and also put a strain on our resources'.
Applications to the MEF will only commence next month and with no idea whether it would be successful for the second year running, the HKCA has decided to go it alone. But Tandon said the main reason for not applying was that the MEF hadn't changed the way it dished out cash - 50 per cent up-front with the balance payable only if the event was deemed successful.
Last year, the Sixes received HK$3.5 million from the MEF, split into two equal payments. The second payment was received almost seven months after the tournament ended. The Sixes will continue to be backed by the other government initiative - the M-Mark scheme. It is understood HK$1 million will be available from this fund.
'The biggest worry is that if we were to think big, we will also have to spend big but to do this we need the money up-front. We are a small association and we don't have that kind of money lying around. It would have been great if the MEF paid most of the funding up-front,' Tandon (pictured) said.
'Applications open next month, leaving us with very little time. Last year, too, we got the MEF approval at the 11th hour.
'We ran a huge risk by taking steps to increase the number of teams and going one extra day. We had to do this as we couldn't wait until we knew if we would get MEF funding. But just imagine if we didn't get it. We would have been left with huge bills to pay having expanded the tournament'.
To cut the risk to a minimum, the HKCA has decided to revert to a smaller event with eight or nine teams and reduce the Sixes from three to two days. The All Stars will also not be a feature of this year's tournament, to be played on October 27-28 at Kowloon Cricket Club. Last year, the event featured 12 teams and was played for the first time over three days.
With the HKCA administration unsettled and the new hierarchy still to be decided - the annual general meeting earlier this month was adjourned after the leadership-elect of Anoop Gidwani (chairman), Burji Shroff (president) and Sudhir Gidwani (treasurer) all pulled out at the last minute - it was felt it was better to take a cautious approach over this year's Sixes.
England, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Australia and South Africa are guaranteed to appear but there is debate over whether the last overseas berth should go to New Zealand or Ireland. Associate members the Netherlands could also turn up. They have written saying they would pay their own costs. 'If we accommodate the Netherlands, we will then make it a nine-team tournament,' said Tandon, who will stand down once a new executive committee is in place. The new executive committee is expected to be picked at the reconvened AGM on July 6.
The amount, in HK dollars, the HKCA received from the Mega Events Fund last year