LPL terminates Dambulla Thunders franchise

Wednesday, 22 May 2024 - 19:50

The Lanka Premier League (LPL) has terminated the contract of the Dambulla Thunders, one of its five participating teams, effective immediately. This decision follows the arrest of team owner Tamim Rahman in Colombo under the 2019 Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports Act, which addresses corruption in sports.

Rahman, a British national of Bangladeshi origin, was apprehended by Sri Lanka police just before boarding a flight. His arrest stems from efforts coordinated with the ICC's anti-corruption unit.

In a statement, Sri Lanka Cricket emphasized the importance of maintaining the integrity and smooth operation of the LPL: "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 LPL management is now working diligently to manage the consequences of this termination and minimize disruption to the upcoming season.

The Dambulla Thunders, one of the two new franchises this year along with the Galle Marvels, now find themselves without an owner. The Thunders were previously owned by the Imperial Sports Group, believed to be founded by Rahman. This ownership change was part of broader shifts in the league, with the Galle franchise also rebranding from the Gladiators to the Marvels.

At the recent LPL 2024 auction, the Thunders retained many players from their previous incarnation as Dambulla Aura and added notable signings such as Afghanistan's Karim Janat and Hazratullah Zazai. Janat secured the highest bid among new overseas players at $80,000. The team also boasts prominent overseas cricketers like Mustafizur Rahman, Ibrahim Zadran, and Iftikhar Ahmed, along with Sri Lankan internationals such as Dilshan Madushanka, Nuwan Thushara, Akila Dananjaya, Danushka Gunathilaka, and Nuwan Pradeep.

The future of the Dambulla Thunders and the league's structure remains uncertain. New ownership is required to finance the Dambulla team, which has seen three ownership changes since the league's inception in 2020. The team finished second in last year's LPL under the name Dambulla Aura, whose owners also faced financial fraud charges.

Sri Lanka has taken a firm stance against match-fixing and related offenses, becoming the first South Asian country to criminalize such activities with the passing of the Prevention of Offences Related to Sports bill in November 2019.

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