Euro T20 Slam organisers seek ‘breathing space’ through launch postponement

Organisers of the Euro T20 Slam, the world’s first multinational Twenty20 franchise cricket tournament, have postponed its launch by a year amid reports of financial difficulties.

The announcement was made on Wednesday evening, with the inaugural tournament having been scheduled to run from August 30 to September 22 in Ireland, Scotland and the Netherlands.

The news came with organisers having continued to actively promote the event, which was to feature six franchises representing Dublin, Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Amsterdam and Rotterdam, in recent days.

Indeed, the Euro T20 Slam’s official Twitter account had announced the signing of New Zealand batsman Ross Taylor as a replacement player just hours earlier, while Indian fantasy sports operator Dream11 was signed as the league’s official fantasy game partner last week.

Prashant Mishra, speaking on behalf of the board of the Euro T20 Slam, said: “The board of the Euro T20 Slam, funding partners and franchise owners of this exciting new T20 tournament have reluctantly come to the decision that staging of the event will not be possible in 2019.

“We want to ensure that the inaugural staging of the Euro T20 Slam provides the best springboard to making this a truly flagship event on the global cricket calendar. As such, we believe the right course of action is to postpone the Slam to a further date. This will give us the necessary breathing space to ensure we are ready to go.

“We will work with the three cricket boards, our principal investors, the franchise owners, players and other stakeholders within the game to ensure we fulfil any commitments we have made to the extent possible. We want to ensure the goodwill and integrity that we have built up rolls on into 2020.”

The Euro T20 Slam had attracted leading talent such as England captain Eoin Morgan; South Africa’s Faf du Plessis and Dale Steyn, Pakistan batsman Babar Azam and Afghanistan bowler Rashid Khan, but the ESPNcricinfo website said that tournament promoters Bombay Sports and Woods Entertainment have encountered increasing financial troubles in recent weeks.

The two groups also organise the Global T20 Canada league, which concluded its second season at the weekend, and ESPNcricinfo reported that a player protest occurred on August 7 over unpaid wages.

Financial and logistical issues for the Euro T20 Slam are said to have led to an emergency board meeting on Tuesday between organisers and the three sanctioning boards – Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland and the KNCB of the Netherlands. ESPNcricinfo, citing multiple sources, said the projected logistical-cost overruns of having to build temporary stadium seating and broadcast facilities at three venues in three countries were a key factor in the tournament being axed.

In a statement, Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said: “We are deeply disappointed with the decision, however, fully empathise with the rationale that has led to the tournament’s postponement.

“The excitement and energy that the Euro T20 Slam had generated since it was announced has demonstrated a high level of interest amongst the Irish public in seeing world-class cricket hosted here in Ireland. We hope that the interest will carry on until 2020 when the Slam will finally get underway.

“We would like to acknowledge the enormous work that has gone into planning for the Slam behind the scenes – the clubs, the local councils, business partners and sponsors, and the many, many hours put in by staff in Cricket Ireland, Cricket Scotland and KNCB to support this undertaking. All of this groundwork is not in vain, as it will be the bedrock on which we support the event next year.

“We will continue to engage with the event organisers to ensure all commitments are met to their fullest extent, including any receivables owing to Cricket Ireland itself. We will additionally be seeking increased comfort that the organisers will be able to avoid a repeat of this year’s challenges in future editions.”

Malcolm Cannon, chief executive of Cricket Scotland, added: “While this was a very difficult decision to make at this late stage, we believe that it is the right one and one which leaves us with a great opportunity to launch the Euro T20 Slam next year with its deserved noise level.

“Cricket Scotland has no regrets about trying to find innovative ways to drive cricket forward, popularise the game, and attract more investment into the sport. Indeed, the interest shown in the Slam since its launch has proved to us here in Scotland that there is a huge appetite for this type of event and for Scottish sports fans to get to see international superstars playing with and against our homegrown talent.”