HKCA in chase for sponsors
HONG KONG cricket will be going on a huge summer shopping spree for sponsors.
The territory's governing body, the Hong Kong Cricket Association (HKCA), has had its cupboard almost stripped bare of sponsors after long-time supporters Connaught Financial Services Ltd pulled up stumps.
The loss of Connaught has placed the HKCA in a precarious position. In one blow, the territory's premier tournament the Sunday League, the Saturday League, the association's magazine Scoreboard and also the Cricketer of the Year event, have lost their sponsorship.
'It is giving us a bit of concern for next season,' said Peter Slack, HKCA chairman yesterday. 'However I'm confident that we can get backers.' Connaught's financial involvement was around $150,000 per year. Slack is confident that he can up the ante with any new sponsors.
At the moment, the HKCA has only two sponsors - Brierley's Investment Ltd and Air New Zealand - both backing the development programme.
But in the next couple of months, Slack hopes to sign up potential sponsors. But whether the association will get another backer like Connaught - who batted for six years - is doubtful.
The HKCA hopes to attract the sponsors by glamorising the game locally. It has lined up a number of new events, including the world single wicket championships and the Patrons Sixes, which would feature international cricketers.
Another area the HKCA are looking into is to expand the Hong Kong Sixes (which is not its event, although it officially sanctions it) by having an associate member tournament during the same week.
'We can't get sponsors unless we start expanding the game. But at the same time, we can't expand unless we have the sponsors. We must be able to strike the right balance and get the momentum going,' said Slack.
It will be a hard slog. The ambitious plans have seen cricket willing to sell almost everything for the sponsorship dollar. Apart from the League and Knockout tournaments, there are around 20 events up for sponsorship.
These vary from events like the Graham Gooch benefit dinner to the Hong Kong young cricketers scholarship scheme. And taking a leaf from Hong Kong rugby, cricket has also put its representative teams up for 'sale' with sponsors sought for the Hong Kong national team, the Hong Kong Dragons, the Hong Kong President's XI and the youth team.
'The ideal situation would mean that we would get something like a million sponsorship dollars if every aspect of cricket was backed,' revealed Slack.
As of last season (1994/95), the HKCA's turnover was $1.6 million with $350,000 of this sum coming from sponsorship.
'In the new season, our turnover is likely to increase by around a million dollars. We are trying to broaden our funding base, but sponsorship will be our main source of revenue,' said Slack.
The territory's Sports Development Board will also help the HKCA search for sponsors although this will be limited to finding people interested in backing mini-cricket and the schools programme.