Champions’ Ranil bombshell - tax blow means ‘gutted’ Dhammika won’t be back as pro

Ranil Dhammika. Picture: Gary Harlow
Ranil Dhammika. Picture: Gary Harlow

Ranil Dhammika, the most important cog in Walsden’s title-winning machine last season, will not be returning to Scott Street in 2013.

The Central Lancashire League champions have had to pull the plug on the popular Sri Lanka’s planned return after a visit from the taxman.

Walsden are bracing themselves for a tax bill and they have been forced to make a quick decision over Dhammika to give him a chance to find an alternative club this summer.

They will now be looking for a cut-price replacement closer to home.

There should be plenty of interest in Dhammika among those clubs yet to engage an overseas professional because the 32-year-old Colombo-born player had a sensational 2012 season in spite of the rain.

The slow left arm spinner was the CCL’s top bowler with 119 wickets at 7.91 and backed it up with 589 runs at 34.65 to finish behind only Matthew Dawson and Nick Barker in Walsden’s batting averages.

Walsden spokesman Kenny Gale admitted the news was a major setback, just a week after hopes of a successful title defence had soared with the signing of overseas amateur batsman Brenton Edwards.

Gale said: “The last time we had someone from the Inland Revenue at the club was in 2005 and everything was fine then.

“Now they have had a fresh look and say things may not be right, looking back over recent years. It is all to do with a stricter attitude over certain items.”

Gale said several other factors were now taken into account by the taxman, and that had added to overall cost of bringing in an overseas professional.

“It is going to cost us a lot more and we haven’t that sort of money at the moment,” said Gale.

More details are expected to be revealed to club members at tomorrow’s annual general meeting at the club.

Gale said Dhammika was “gutted” by the news, having talked of his excitement about returning to Scott Street via Facebook recently.

Gale said club members were similarly disappointed as Dhammika was very popular.

Walsden’s case suggests a shift in attitude from the taxman towards sports clubs and that others should be on guard.

The news comes at a time when much has been made in the national Press of big firms such as Starbucks, Amazon and Google allegedly avoiding UK corporation tax. The multi-national firms have all insisted that they abide by the law.

“It seems that the big companies get away with it while the poor man gets it in the neck,” said Gale.

Dhammika’s contribution last year included bowling almost 400 overs in the league.

Gale said skipper Chris Dewhirst had plenty of other bowling options within the team.

“Ranil bowled 20 to 25 overs a game so Chris may need to do a bit more juggling around.”

Walsden start their programme in a league split into two sections since last season at Clifton on Sunday, April 14