Hong Kong Sixes scrapped due to lack of sponsorship
Popular tournament dropped from 2013 calendar after finding no title sponsor, but event might make a comeback in 2014
Snubbed twice by the government's Mega Events Fund, the Hong Kong Sixes finally threw in the towel yesterday with organisers cancelling next month's tournament.
After months of searching for a title sponsor, the Hong Kong Cricket Association conceded defeat and decided not to go ahead with the 2013 edition of the popular tournament, which in the past has attracted the world's biggest names such as Brian Lara, Shane Warne and MS Dhoni.
"It is very sad that we have had to take this decision, but we have not been able to find a title sponsor despite leaving no stone unturned for the past three months," said HKCA chairman Mike Walsh. "We tried everything and a lot of people expressed interest but unfortunately no one pulled their cheque book out."
A statement issued by the HKCA pointed a finger at the cash-flush Mega Events Fund (MEF) which has nearly HK$200 million in its coffers.
"The rejection of the HKCA's request for [support from] the Mega Events Fund was a significant blow ... and made finding a corporate underwriter for the tournament a significantly more expensive proposition in 2013 with the resulting shortened time frame to find a title sponsor further exacerbating matters."
Earlier this year, the HKCA requested HK$10 million from the Hong Kong Tourism Commission's MEF. This was turned down in June. MEF officials intimated that a reduced application might be considered, but a second request, for HK$5 million, was also rejected.
"With Hong Kong being the 20th-ranked team in world cricket and considering the Sixes' unique history and role as the showcase event for cricket in China and north Asia, we are still struggling to understand why we were rejected," the HKCA said.
MEF officials said they cannot give reasons on individual applications. But Home Affairs Bureau deputy secretary Jonathan McKinley, whose purview includes sports, said Hong Kong had a history of international tournaments bouncing back after missing out a year. "I cannot speak for the MEF, but the FIVB Volleyball World Grand Prix missed a year in 2012 and then came back this year with strong support from sponsors and spectators alike. We look forward to the Sixes making a similarly strong comeback in 2014. I understand the HKCA is working to that end," he said.
Walsh said work would start soon on the 2014 event. "We will make every effort to return the Sixes to its rightful place in the international calendar next year," he said.
The tournament, which began in 1992, had received support from the government's M-Mark fund, which was willing to offer HK$1 million. But Walsh said that wasn't enough to host an eight-team tournament even on a tightly-run budget.
"Without a sponsor, there is no way we could go forward. Even with [the M-Mark] money we need at least HK$500,000 to HK$1 million more ... there was no way we were going to spend our own money and leave the HKCA open to a potentially significant financial loss," he said.
The Hong Kong Golf Open also failed to secure a title sponsor and was forced to slash its prize money by US$700,000 to US$1.3 million with part underwritten by the Hong Kong Golf Club.