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And now Shah Rukh Khan seeks to popularise cricket in America!

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BY S VENKAT NARAYAN Our Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI, December 1: Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan, co-owner of Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) franchise in the Indian Premier League (IPL), has completed a major long-term investment in cricket in the United States in partnership with American Cricket Enterprises (ACE).

The partnership between ACE and the KKR will include financial investments and expertise to help ACE develop and launch Major Cricket League (MCL) in the US.The investment is being led by Khan, along with his partners in the Knight Riders franchise – film actress Juhi Chawla and her businessman-husband Jay Mehta. The Times of India today quoted sources as saying that the Knight Riders is also likely to own and run the Los Angeles franchise. Los Angeles plays host to legendary clubs like the LA Lakers (basketball) and the LA Galaxy (soccer).

For a long time, Bollywood has been one of India’s big cultural and commercial exports to the US. Now one of its biggest stars has decided to invest in what promises to be a bigger entertainment and business opportunity in America. “For several years now, we have been expanding the Knight Riders brand globally and closely watching the potential for T20 cricket in the US. We are convinced that Major League Cricket has all the pieces in place to execute its plans and we look forward to making our partnership an enormous success in the coming years,” Khan said in a statement.Major League Cricket will deliver the US’s first professional T20 league featuring top international players from the host country and around the world. The focus, ACE says, will be on developing a homegrown player-pool for the US and the league. The league’s inaugural season will be in 2022.The Kolkata Knight Riders also own Trinbago Knight Riders (TKR) in the Caribbean Premier League (CPL), a franchise it bought in 2015. Between 2008 and now, KKR have won the IPL twice (in 2012 and 14) and the CPL four times in six editions so far.KKR and Red Chillies Entertainment CEO Venky Mysore said: “We have had a keen interest in the US and our expansion is consistent with our long-term strategy. We look forward to the new challenge of building cricket in the world’s most sophisticated sports and media market,” says Mysore.Vijay Srinivasan, the co-founder at ACE and Major League Cricket, said: “There is a passionate following for cricket right across the US”, underlining New York, New Jersey, LA, Florida, Atlanta, Texas, Chicago, the Bay Area, Seattle among the hotbeds of the sport.”We have granular data on the audiences, which has helped guide our plans for the key markets. Our research indicates there are 15-20 million fans in the US, with over four million regular viewers for cricket broadcasts on our partner Willow TV. This audience is complemented by over 150,000 regular players in leagues and conferences across,” Srinivasan said.

“The US is now the third or fourth largest market for cricket media rights, anchored by large communities with backgrounds from the Indian sub-continent, the Caribbean, and other major cricket playing countries,” he added.

Mysore believes the diaspora in the US has been “huge consumer of cricket content” and will work towards ensuring that the T20 format catches the imagination of American public.

“The economics of the league and franchise is bound to be healthy given the size of the media market and the appetite of global brands to advertise on the T20 platform. The city councils and their support for development of cricket infrastructure will ensure that world class stadiums will be up and running fairly quickly,” he said.

Srinivasan believes there are a number of factors that have given him and his team the confidence that the timing is right for cricket to truly establish its hold in America. “The readmission of a National Governing Body for the sport, the newly formed USA Cricket, as a member of the ICC in 2017 was critical. Since then the progress has been significant. In May 2019 ACE was chosen as the exclusive strategic partner for USA Cricket for the development of a world-class professional T20 cricket league in the US,” he says.

The league has leading experts on board and is working towards its plans to feature six teams from major metropolitan regions across the United States.

“As we finalise venues, we will make further announcements. The first Minor League Cricket season in 2021 will be a major stepping stone towards the launch and we are very excited to be able to deliver the first edition of a national T20 competition,” Srinivasan said.



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UNDP: Rs 600 bn tax cut a huge mistake

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Director of the Sustainable Finance Hub of the UNDP Marcos Neto has called the decision to do away with a range of taxes here a fundamental mistake committed by Sri Lanka.The comment was made at the Parliament complex during an interactive dialogue on ‘Revenue Generation as a Pathway to Sri Lanka’s Economic Recovery’ on Tuesday (09). It was organised on a request by Anura Priyadarshana Yapa, former Chairman of the Committee on Public Finance to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The Opposition as well as several other parties alleged that the government had lost as much as Rs 600 bn due to the controversial decision to do away with a range of taxes including PAYE, NBT (Nation Building Tax), Withholding tax, Capital Gain tax imposed on the Colombo Stock Exchange, Bank Debit tax and unprecedented reduction of VAT (Value Added Tax). The 15% VAT and the 2% NBT which amounted to 17% imposed on all goods and services were unified and reduced to 8%, effective from the first of December 2019.

The decision was taken at the first Cabinet meeting of the Gotabaya Rajapaksa government on 27 Nov. 2019.Governor of the Central Bank Dr. Nandalal Weerasinghe is on record as having said that the powers that be ignored the IMF warning not to do so and also the immediate need to restructure Sri Lanka’s debt (SF)

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Debate on power tariff hike on 29 Aug.

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Party leaders have decided to debate the electricity tariff hikes in parliament on 29 August.The date was fixed for the debate following a request by the main opposition SJB.The debate will be held from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm on 29 August.

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella told Parliament on Wednesday (10) that as per the proposed tariff hike the monthly electricity bill of domestic consumers would increase by 75 percent to 125 percent. “This is unbearable. This is like sending the people to an electric chair while they are struggling to make ends meet amidst a massive increase in cost of living.

How does this government expect people would be able to pay such an exorbitant price for electricity? We demand a debate in parliament before this proposed tariff hike is implemented,” Kiriella said.

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British national to be deported

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Department of Immigration and Emigration has ordered Kayleigh Fraser, a British national whose passport has been taken into custody after she posted on social media anti-government protests, for violating her visa conditions, to leave the country by 15 August. The Department has already cancelled her visa.

Earlier this month Immigration and Emigration officials visited Fraser at her home and took her passport into custody. The Department said Fraser had been in Sri Lanka for medical reasons since 2019. She had returned home several times, it said.

The Immigration and Emigration officers told her to visit them within the next seven days.Fraser on 02 August said that a group of immigration officers had visited her and asked for her travel document. She said that officials told her that they would return her passport when she visited the Department of Immigration and Emigration.

Fraser added that she had received an anonymous call asking her to leave Sri Lanka as soon as possible before facing ‘big problems.’ Immigration officials visited her house a few days after the call.

Fraser has shared a number of photographs and videos from the ‘Gota Go Gama’ site. Human Rights groups and activists have accused the Sri Lankan government of using Emergency regulations to harass and arbitrarily detain activists seeking political reform and accountability for the country’s economic crisis.

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