Sixes future under threat as Mega Events Fund turns down cash request
This year's tournament is in grave doubt after third MEF snub for funding, this time for HK$3.5 million
The future of the Hong Kong Sixes was under a cloud yesterday after the government's Mega Events Fund once again turned down an application, this time for HK$3.5 million, for the 2014 tournament.
This is the third time in 10 months the popular tournament, which in the past has featured greats such as Brian Lara and Shane Warne, has had its request for funds knocked back by the Hong Kong Tourism Commission that manages the MEF.
"I'm at a loss to understand why we have been turned down again," said Mike Walsh, Hong Kong Cricket Association chairman. "Perhaps we just can't compete with lion dancing."
After being turned down twice last year - the initial application was for HK$10 million, followed by a reduced one for HK$5 million - the HKCA was forced to cancel the event after also failing to unearth a title sponsor.
Walsh said it was too early to say if the same would happen this year.
"We will first have to digest this news and try and make some sense of it - why we were refused again despite only requesting HK$3.5 million.
"We will mull this over the weekend before deciding what to do. We have pencilled in the Sixes for October this year," Walsh said.
"We are committed to holding the tournament this year, but we will have to assess that again. We will now have to depend on outside sponsorship."
In a brief letter sent out yesterday, the MEF said: "The MEF assessment committee has completed scrutiny of the third round application under Tier 2. I regret to inform you that your application has not been selected."
It was signed by Emily Mo, the secretary for the MEF assessment committee. It is MEF policy to not comment on individual applications.
The HKCA were optimistic their latest application would be successful because they believed they had ticked all the boxes.
"We were looking at expanding it to a three-day event and inviting some of the leading associate countries to take part alongside the top nations," Walsh said.
"We also wanted to invite the China women's national team to play in an exhibition match."
This latest blow comes at a time the game is on a high, with the Hong Kong national team having qualified for the ICC World Twenty20 in Bangladesh later this month as well as coming close to qualifying for the 2015 ICC World Cup (50 overs) in Australia and New Zealand.
Hong Kong have also earned one-day international status.
"Turning down the Sixes again, despite all these recent achievements, simply sends the message that the government is not interested in developing the sport," said one cricket fan.