PSL matches likely to move out of Lahore and Rawalpindi amidst PCB row with the government
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the caretaker government of Punjab are currently at loggerheads over the cost of security arrangements for the remaining matches of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Lahore and Rawalpindi. The Punjab government has submitted a bill of PKR 450 million for security arrangements, which the PCB is refusing to pay, insisting that security is the responsibility of the provincial government. If the issue is not resolved, the fate of the remaining PSL games in Punjab hangs in the balance, and the PSL league could have a move to Karachi from February 28.
The PCB has already paid approximately PKR 50 million for security arrangements in Punjab, which it argues is sufficient. Additionally, the board has informed the government that it has paid approximately PKR 700 million in provincial tax exclusively due to PSL matches being held in Punjab.
The PCB has said that usually governments “pay fees to host sports events due to the positive economic activity generated as a result.” The government’s demand for additional payment for security is unprecedented, and the PCB is not willing to make any further payments and will move PSL games if required.
A delegation representing the Punjab government met with PCB Chairman Najam Sethi at the Gaddafi Stadium on Friday to discuss the issue, but the meeting ended without a resolution. The PCB has set a deadline of Saturday for the issue to be resolved, so that the board can reschedule the tournament starting Tuesday.
Moving the league immediately is not an option as both Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi have already arrived in Lahore, and the TV production kit is being installed at Gaddafi Stadium.
The Sindh government, which oversees Karachi, does not require the PCB to pay a share of the security costs, only remuneration for the security personnel’s catering, which is expected to be approximately PKR 30 million. In Karachi, the PCB does not have to pay additional security costs, as it does in Punjab, which is one of the reasons the PCB is considering a move of the PSL league to Karachi.
The PCB has also taken the PSL franchise owners into confidence and received unanimous agreement that no additional payments should be made. In the event that the issue cannot be resolved, the league will be moved to another province where the board does not have to pay any additional fees and set a precedent.
The first 12 matches of the PSL have taken place in Karachi and Multan, with a total of 11 matches scheduled to be played in Rawalpindi and nine matches in Lahore. The Multan leg of the event has already concluded, and the Lahore leg is scheduled to begin on February 26, followed by the Rawalpindi leg on March 1.
There are also three women’s “festival games” scheduled midway into the PSL, which will be held in Rawalpindi on March 8, 10, and 11, featuring local and overseas players, as a test run for a full-fledged women’s T20 league in the future.
ESPNcricinfo has reported that Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who is also the patron-in-chief of the PCB, could intervene to break the deadlock. However, the PCB has not yet approached the prime minister, as it is seen as a last resort.
The PCB is already taking austerity measures after suffering significant losses of approximately PKR 1 billion during the organization of the Pakistan Junior League under former Chairman Ramiz Raja’s tenure. Therefore, the board has made up its mind not to pay such a large amount for security arrangements.
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