Top Hong Kong Cricket Association official Mike Walsh is fearful that Singapore could steal the city's thunder if the annual Hong Kong Sixes is not staged this year, a tournament which he says can play a part in the city being viewed as a destination for major sporting events.
"If we lose this I am very concerned that Singapore will stage it, or something very similar, and it would then be doubly difficult to ever get it back," HKCA chairman Walsh said yesterday.
The Hong Kong Sixes is in danger of not being staged this year after the government's Mega Events Fund turned down an application from the HKCA for HK$10 million to help stage the tournament at the Kowloon Cricket Club at the end of October. To make matters worse, the tournament is also looking for a title sponsor after Karp Group pulled out last year.
The HKCA executive will have to decide soon whether to go ahead with the popular tournament, which has been under its control for the last 16 years and has drawn some of the world's top cricketers to town, from MS Dhoni and David Warner to Brian Lara and Shane Warne.
There are fears that if the tournament is not held this year, it would be forgotten by the world's cricketing boards, which in recent times have sent official teams. The International Cricket Council has also given its blessings to the tournament.
"At the moment we are looking at all options. There is a possibility of running a scaled down version if we can get some M Mark funding [HK$1 million] but this would require selling the same number of boxes and tickets as last year. And with a scaled down offering, there would probably no TV interest [for worldwide broadcasting] which would, of itself, be counter productive for any potential sponsors," Walsh said.
The HKCA has talked to a couple of interested parties but so far no sponsor has come forward.
Walsh said: "A hoped for sponsor from India has not materialised; neither has one from Singapore but we are still trying. I am convinced this tournament has intrinsic value not only for the game and its development here but for Hong Kong as a whole in its aim to be viewed as a serious contender on the Asia/world stage for major events."
The HKCA will wait until next month to decide whether to go ahead with its limited resources or to shelve the event for a year.
It is understood that a fresh application, for a smaller sum, has been made to the MEF. An MEF spokesman refused to comment on individual applications. Last year, South Africa defeated Pakistan to win the Cup final.