LPL terminates contract with Dambulla Thunders following owner’s arrest

Sri Lanka

The Lanka Premier League (LPL) has terminated its contract with Dambulla Thunders, one of the five participating teams, with immediate effect following the arrest of Thunders owner Tamim Rahman in Colombo on Wednesday. He was arrested under the 2019 Prevention of Offences Relating to Sports law, which is governed by the Sri Lanka’s sports ministry.

ESPNcricinfo has learnt from the Sri Lankan police that Rahman is a British national of Bangladeshi origin and was arrested prior to boarding a flight in Colombo. It is also learnt that the arrest is in connection with corruption in the LPL, though details are not clear at this stage.

“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,” Sri Lanka Cricket said in a statement. “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 working diligently to address the consequences of this termination and to ensure minimal disruption to the upcoming season.”

The Dambulla franchise is one of two with new owners in LPL 2024, and that has meant a shift from Dambulla Aura to Dambulla Thunders. The team is currently owned by Imperial Sports Group, founded by Rahman. The other is Galle, which has changed from Galle Gladiators to Galle Marvels.
At the LPL 2024 auction held just the day before – where ICC anti-corruption unit officials were present – Thunders retained many of the players who had earlier been a part of Aura, and added the Afghanistan duo of Karim Janat and Hazratullah Zazai. Janat, in fact, earned the highest bid among the fresh overseas signings, going for US$80,000.

The franchise also has in its rolls prominent overseas cricketers like Mustafizur Rahman, Ibrahim Zadran and Iftikhar Ahmed, as well as Sri Lanka internationals Dilshan Madushanka, Nuwan Thushara, Akila Dananjaya, Danushka Gunathilaka, Nuwan Pradeep and others.

Sri Lanka became the first South Asian nation to criminalise several offences related to match-fixing, after its parliament passed all three readings of the Prevention of Offences Related to Sports bill in November 2019. As reported by ESPNcricinfo at the time, the country’s sports ministry had worked closely with the ICC’s ACU during the process of drafting the bill.

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