Fate of Hong Kong Sixes in hands of government
Mega Events Fund support essential for HKCA as it has not found a naming-rights sponsor
The fate of this year's Hong Kong Sixes, left hanging without a title sponsor, depends on the government approving a request for HK$10 million from the Mega Events Fund (MEF), leading cricket official Mike Walsh warned yesterday.
Walsh, who became HKCA chairman at last night's annual meeting, said the scale of the Sixes, slated for the last weekend in October, would depend hugely on whether the cash application was successful.
"I will be knocking on [government] doors first thing tomorrow as we need this money quickly," Walsh said. "It takes time to pull it all together and I would think we will need to know before the end of this month if our application is successful."
The MEF backed the Hong Kong Sixes to the tune of HK$3.5 million in 2011.
Last year the HKCA did not apply as the fund was in limbo with the government undecided whether to continue with the scheme which began in 2009 with HK$100 million to help boost events in sports, arts and culture into high-profile affairs which would help raise the city's image. A further HK$150 million was pumped in last year.
"The scale of this year's Hong Kong Sixes will greatly depend on MEF funding," said Walsh, who returned to the hot seat after a break of eight years. He was chairman from 1998 to 2005.
He steps in at a crucial juncture with the Sixes looking for a title sponsor to replace KARP Group which had backed the tournament for the past five years."We are looking for a title sponsor and have many irons in the fire. Hopefully, we will be able to get someone on board soon. But what is crucial is MEF money," Walsh said.
The Sixes is scheduled for October 26-27 but if MEF funding is available, the plan is to make it a three-day tournament similar to that in 2011 when it was expanded to 12 teams. Last year the tournament was cut to eight teams. There are also plans to invite an All-Stars side back to the competition.
Once government funding is in place, organisers will have the luxury of being able to allocate funds solely towards acquiring big-name players such as West Indian batting ace Chris Gayle and Sri Lankan fast bowler Lasith Malinga.
MEF rules prevent organisers from using the money for prizes with it earmarked for promotional purposes.
The Hong Kong Golf Open last year received HK$15 million, with most of the cash going towards paying the appearance fee for Rory McIlroy.