Cricket Chief exposes Nishantha Ranatunga

The reputation of controversial Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) Secretary Nishantha Ranatunga took another severe beating after SLC Chairman Upali Dharmadasa admitted that Carlton Sports Network (CSN) was indeed owned by the sons of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Dharmadasa, making a statement to the BBC Sinhala Service, had said that there was no political pressure, however, to award the Sri Lanka team’s television rights to CSN.

Ranatunga, who is both the CEO of CSN and Secretary of SLC, had previously denied any involvement of President’s sons with CSN.

Last month SLC sold its local telecasting rights to CSN for a period of three years.

Earlier, a Cabinet decision had been taken to give state television Rupavahini the telecasting rights of all cricket matches taking place in Sri Lanka as the market value for cricket matches was huge and cricket was one of the major sources of income for the state-run television.

Earlier this year, during SLC elections, the government did its maximum in getting Nishantha Ranatunga elected as the Secretary of SLC. It was alleged that Tamil Union President Prakash Schafter, who was to contest for the post of Secretary, was pressured to withdraw.

Another candidate for the post of Secretary, Michael de Zoysa, was also alleged to have been told to withdraw. Although de Zoysa insisted in contesting the elections, he withdrew in the eleventh hour. Since then, de Zoysa has been offered lucrative television commentary stints for Sri Lanka’s international games. SLC is the authority that nominates TV commentators.

The role of Nishantha Ranatunga, during his tenure as Secretary of the D. S. de Silva run Cricket Interim Committee, came in for severe criticism by Parliamentary watchdog COPE (Committee on Public Enterprises).

Prior to that, the then Sports Minister C. B. Ratnayake called the D. S. de Silva and Nishantha Ranatunga run Cricket Interim Committee as the third most corrupt institution in the whole country.

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