Gymkhana Club mired in controversy

Published : 10:00 am  July 24, 2015 | No comments so far |  |  (1188) reads | 

eco2By Channaka de Silva
One of Sri Lanka’s most prestigious sports clubs Gymkhana Club which is also regarded as the country’s oldest sports club has heated up in an unprecedented manner as the Annual General Meeting to elect office bearers for the next term is scheduled to be held on Thursday.

Incumbent Chairman Shammi Silva will be contesting to retain his position to head the club for a sixth term while incumbent Secretary Prasantha Wimalasena has thrown in the hat to take on Silva who according to Wimalasena has been involved in many corrupt deals inside the club.


He was in the committee for the entire year. Why didn’t he point out these things then, if they are true?” questioned Silva, who played first class cricket for CCC


“Silva has been running a rather dictatorial rule in the club, steamrolling his way over the committee members and taking arbitrary decisions without consulting the rest of the committee members” alleged Wimalasena, who is a former rugby player who represented club’s rugby team CH and FC in the premier division.

However Silva brushed off the allegations levelled against him as a mud-slinging campaign, saying that it was merely an election ploy by Wimalasena, who Silva said was in his committee for the whole of last year approving every decision they took.
“He was in the committee for the entire year. Why didn’t he point out these things then, if they are true?” questioned Silva, who played first class cricket for CCC.

One of the biggest allegations against Silva is that he had been appointing employees and granting ordinary and honorary memberships by-passing constitutional provisions and entering into commercial transactions by way of private arrangements. Wimalasena said that Silva has given honorary membership to as many as 250 people without required committee approvals, in addition to granting full memberships without following criteria at inconsistent membership fees. However, Silva said that he has taken committee approval for every membership given and claimed that Wimalasena was well aware of it as he was the secretary of the committee.

Wimalasena also said that Silva has given club premises on rent to various establishments without the approval of the committee on his own, has been deciding on rent and even waiving off some rent and also claimed that he has been amending the clauses of lease agreements without the approval of the committee.


Incumbent Chairman Shammi Silva will be contesting to retain his position to head the club for a sixth term while incumbent Secretary Prasantha Wimalasena has thrown in the hat to take on Silva who according to Wimalasena has been involved in many corrupt deals inside the club.


has seen a pile of documents supporting these claims and they appear authentic but Silva again brushed off the allegations as just politically motivated mud-slinging.
“Even in 2008, these people came up with false allegations like these but all of it was proven false by a comprehensive audit done by Ernst and Young. Now they are coming up again with such allegations” said Silva.

Gymkhana Club is presently situated in crown land leased out to the club till 2020. Though crown land cannot be sub let to third parties, Wimalasena alleged that Silva had arbitrarily taken decisions on his own to enter into agreements with various developers to lease out land for development projects such as apartment buildings and hotels. Even a building project had been planned on Queens Club premises where the tennis courts are, he added.

Wimalasena said in addition to being illegal, it was also a fundamental violation of the objectives of the club which has been established to promote sports and recreational activities and not to promote commercial projects.

Wimalasena produced several documents supporting his claims and also alleged that Silva had paid the cricket team manager Rs. 35,000 as salary, but has claimed Rs. 110,000 as his salary from the funds provided to the club by Sri Lanka Cricket (SLC). Silva however said that the claimed amount included a match winning bonus paid to the players as well. Wimalasena said that he has called for a proper audit of the membership, as the members who had been given membership by Silva flouting constitution could prevent a fair vote, and said he might have to seek legal redress if it doesn’t happen.

Enjoining Order against Gymkhana Club AGM
Colombo District Court judge Harsha Setunga yesterday issued an Enjoining Order against the Gymkhana Club AGM which was scheduled to be held on Thursday. Court also issued notice on Club Chairman Shammi Silva, preventing him from entering the club premises. The Club’s secretary Prasantha Wimalasena obtained this ex-parte order and the court has given Silva time till August 6 to file his answers to the charges. Attorneys at Law Murshid Maharoof with Anslem Kaluarachchi appeared for the Plaintiff Wimalasena.