LPL franchise terminated after owner arrested for alleged attempts at match-fixing

Colombo, May 22 (PTI) Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) on Wednesday terminated the Dambulla Thunders franchise from its flagship T20 league after its owner Tamim Rahman was arrested on suspicion of match-fixing.

Tamim Rahman, a British citizen of Bangladeshi origin who owns the Lanka Premier League (LPL) franchise Dambulla Thunders, was arrested by immigration officials at the city’s Bandaranaike International Airport following a court order.

An official from the Special Investigation Unit for the Prevention of Offenses Relating to Sports at the Sports Ministry confirmed the arrest of the individual. The Colombo Magistrate’s Court remanded Rahman to custody until May 31.

“The Lanka Premier League announces the termination of the Dambulla Thunders franchise, effective immediately. This decision follows recent developments concerning the franchise’s ownership and the legal issues faced by Tamim Rahman, Founder of Imperial Sports Group,” the SLC said in a statement.

The Dambulla franchise was bought by Imperial Sports Group, led by Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, in April.

However, the exact charges against him are not yet clear.

“While the specifics of the charges against Mr. Rahman remain unclear, the integrity and smooth functioning of the Lanka Premier League are of utmost importance.

“This termination aims to uphold the values and reputation of the LPL, ensuring that all participants adhere to the highest standards of conduct and sportsmanship,” the SLC added in the statement.

The LPL management said it is “working diligently to address the consequences of this termination and to ensure minimal disruption” to the upcoming season.

Rahman was being investigated under two provisions of the country’s sports act related to match-fixing and attempting to place bets. The LPL is scheduled to take place between July 1 and 21.

Reacting to the development, LPL rights holder IPG group chairman Anil Mohan said, “We are committed to the highest standards of transparency and professionalism and will continue to support all our teams, players, and fans during this transition.” Recently, a court in Sri Lanka ordered Indian nationals Yoni Patel and P Akash to surrender their passports as both are set to be indicted for match-fixing in the unsanctioned Legends Cricket League in Colombo.

Patel owns a team in the unsanctioned legends league.

The two, who are currently out on bail, have been accused of trying to fix matches in the league, which was played between March 8 and 19 at Kandy’s Pallekele Stadium.

Sri Lanka became the first South Asian country to criminalise match-fixing and corruption in sports when it passed a law against the menace in 2019. Anyone found guilty can be jailed for up to 10 years and also be required to pay fines.

The law also seeks to punish acts of omission such as failure to report corrupt approaches.

The auction for the fifth edition of LPL, with participation of 500 local and international players, was held on Tuesday.

Four years after it started amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Matheesha Pathirana on Tuesday became the most expensive Lanka Premier League player ever, commanding a USD 120,000 price tag as he ended up with his old team, Colombo Strikers, for the 2024 edition of the tournament.

Pathirana recently played for Chennai Super Kings in the IPL.

The league was initially supposed to begin in 2018 but was postponed multiple times owing to administrative issues within Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC).

The current title holder of LPL is B-Love Kandy, who won the 2023 edition by defeating Dambulla Aura in the final. The tournament is competed among five franchises.

Source: PTI News


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