Eight Pakistan Super League matches are set to be played in Pakistan next year, according to the PCB chairman Najam Sethi. It was also confirmed that UAE will continue to be the main venue for the league, where the rest of it be scheduled. The idea of having the entire tournament in Pakistan, ESPNcricinfo understands, is deemed logistically “not feasible” at this stage.
Pakistan had concerns as their home season in the UAE runs alongside various other leagues slotted in the UAE, which hurts the PCB’s commercial rights. As a result, a clash has been brewing between the PCB and Emirates Cricket Board (ECB), forcing the former to explore other venues. However, the PCB has reached a deal with the ECB and retained the UAE as the venue for their home season. The ECB will avoid overlapping other tournaments with Pakistan’s home series, and agreed to keep the PSL free of other cricket in the country. In addition, no cricket will be played in the country for at least six weeks before the PSL starts.
Pakistan are also due to host New Zealand and Australia later this year. The schedule for the series has been organised in a way it avoids clashing with the Afghanistan T20 league and Emirates T20 league in the season, both of which are scheduled to be held in the UAE. Both the PCB, as well as the six PSL franchise owners, met in Lahore on Tuesday to evaluate the potential threats to their league in UAE, with the Afghan T20, the T10 and Emirates T20 league the major reasons for concern. ESPNcricinfo understands that there is a reluctance to host the PSL in the UAE, but with alternatives in short supply, the PCB has come to a decision. The board has also decided to host eight games in Pakistan across three venues; Lahore and Karachi are confirmed as two of them, with a third yet to be decided on.
Pakistan doesn’t yet have the ability to host the entire PSL in Pakistan, what with the resources that extensive security arrangements will likely demand. It will also require enlisting the help of local governments, and all these factors, according to the PCB chairman, rule this out as an option.
“Eventually the whole PSL will come back to Pakistan one day, but at this stage it’s not feasible,” Sethi told ESPNcricinfo. “With every passing year, things are improving and, from the first to the third edition, we have continued to have more games in Pakistan. Next year eight or more games will come to Pakistan.”
Not all stadiums are fully ready to host PSL matches at present, with several needing extensive renovations. Size of the seating area is also an issue in certain stadiums, particularly Faisalabad and Rawalpindi. Multan is a potentially viable venue, but arrangements to stay overnight in the city aren’t quite up to the mark just yet. In a surprise move, the Muzaffarabad Stadium in Kashmir is being explored as a venue, in which case teams would likely have to be flown in and out via helicopter.
In separate proceedings, the PCB is at loggerheads with the franchises over the broadcast bid committee, with Multan Sultans understood to have been demanded representation for the franchises on the broadcast bid committee, which Sethi refused. The PCB is set to sell its broadcasting rights now that the original three-year cycle has come to an end, with the entire commercial and title sponsorship deal to be revised ahead of the fourth edition for a further period of three years.
According to the PCB, the franchises, being stakeholders, can only have a “consultative role” in commercial deals such as broadcasting and title sponsorship deals.
“The consensus in the PCB is that there could be conflict of interest if franchises were given representation on the broadcast bid committee in view of the other business interests franchises have. There are also issues of disclosure of information since most franchisees have media partnerships,” Sethi said. “It’s our prerogative to safeguard the interest of the PSL to get maximum revenues. Broadcasting deals and bidding processes are extremely confidential and sensitive matters.”
One out of six franchises is reportedly in dispute over payments with the PCB. It is understood the PCB was considering terminating the franchise over non-payment, but the Multan Sultans owner came to the rescue, convincing the PCB to allow them another 48 hours to make payment arrangements. The franchise owner, when approached, confirmed that USD 600,000 was owed, but claimed the PCB hadn’t shared revenue fairly, and he believed it was the PCB who owed the franchise money instead.
ESPNcricinfo’s investigations suggest all other franchises have cleared any outstanding financial obligations they had to the PCB.