Shortly before our meeting with the Sri Lankan High Commissioner on 28 October we received the first contact from Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC) since early May. This was within an hour of them being sent our Dossier of Discontent.
The Head of Administration Aruna De Silva informed us that their ‘Hospitality Partner’ Island Leisure Lanka (ILL) had sold 65% of their stock and was now in a position to offer us 500 tickets per day per match at a price of USD $15 each (approx. £11.50) to include drinks vouchers.
It was our opinion that this offer was because ILL had most likely concluded the majority of their business with the organised tour companies and were now agreeing to assist independent supporters by selling the remaining seated tickets at a realistic and fair price.
Coming at this late stage we felt that we were on the verge of a breakthrough. We responded with the following offer:
After receiving no response from SLC and realising that we would probably have to do business directly with ILL we reached out to their MD Chandana Amadarasa.
Mr Amadarasa responded and agreed to our suggestion however he then revealed that the tickets would be for the grass bank areas not for seats. Interestingly he also informed us he had sold 75% of his exclusive ticket allocation, 10% more than what SLC had told us!
At no time had Mr De Silva stipulated that the 500 tickets were for the grass banks - so we were completely taken aback by this response.
In fact Mr Amadarasa had previously offered us grass bank tickets at $15 USD (in advance of the fixture) several months ago. We had declined on the basis that there was no justification for selling a ticket that would cost £1.50 per day on the gate with a mark up of £10 (notwithstanding the included ‘value addition’ drinks vouchers).
Sadly our months of campaigning have failed to persuade Sri Lanka Cricket or Island Leisure Lanka to change their money grabbing and profiteering stance. They have taken the ostrich approach and no doubt hope the series passes without further comment.
We are duty bound to inform supporters that seated tickets are available via Island Leisure Lanka. This is the only way you will be able to purchase a seated ticket in advance of the match. Their contact details are within our Dossier. If you are intending to do business with this company please be aware that not one penny of the profits they will be making is likely to be returned to grass roots cricket. This is nothing but a cynical exploitation of a group of supporters that they regard as having huge amounts of disposable income available on top of the large sums of money they have already parted with for flights and accommodation.
The best way to deprive this company of any more ill gotten gains is to buy a daily grass bank ticket. This will involve queuing and patience and likely to cause frustration. Please bear in mind there will likely be a language barrier when communicating with the ticket office and remember it is not these people that have caused this situation. Conditions on the banks may be uncomfortable due to a lack of shelter and when it rains, as it surely will, the ground will become treacherous underfoot.
The Dutch Fort is another option offering a great vantage point for watching for free. If there are significant numbers hawkers will appear from nowhere offering beer and food for sale. There are unlikely to be sufficient litter receptacles to cope so please take your rubbish away with you and treat this World Heritage Site with the respect it deserves.
Those of you following this sorry saga will note that at no point during our campaign have we endorsed a boycott of this Tour, as some have suggested. We cannot guarantee that we will adopt the same stance should SLC decide a similar policy on future tours.
Sri Lanka is a wonderful destination and thankfully the overwhelming majority of the population do not adopt the attitude of SLC. They are poor country in need of income from Tourism and we will also be raising money for Their Future Today a charity that supports Sri Lankan families throughout the tour.
Finally we thank everyone that has contributed to the debate by contacting us, signing our petition or commenting on our social media channels. We had fervently hoped that pressure brought to bear by the numerous other stakeholders (including their own Government, apparently) would result in a positive outcome. We’ve done all we can.