PCB's stand-off with ICC

Pakistan court stays World Cup secretariat move

Cricinfo staff

May 18, 2009

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Wasim Bari and Ijaz Butt address a press conference, Lahore, March 5, 2009
The PCB is pursuing all options © AFP

A Pakistani court has stayed, until June 2, the ICC's decision to relocate the World Cup 2011 secretariat from Lahore to India. The World Cup Organising Committee had, on April 28, taken the decision on security grounds at a meeting held in Mumbai.

The order was issued by Mohammad Younis Anees, the senior judge of a Lahore civil court, the Pakistan Cricket Board's legal adviser Taffazul Rizvi said.

"The fact raised by the petitioner [PCB] needs consideration," the order said, according to a report on AFP. "The World Cup tournament director is restrained from operating the secretariat from any other place in any other city/country till the next hearing."

The case was filed last week against the ICC, the IDI (the ICC's commercial arm), the tournament director and the World Cup central organising committee.

The PCB's rationale, Rizvi said, was that until an ICC dispute committee or the Swiss-based Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) resolves the primary case - shifting the matches out of Pakistan - the World Cup secretariat could not be moved out of Pakistan. "Pakistan can also claim relief on the relocation of the secretariat," he said.

Rizvi insisted the Lahore court has jurisdiction over the matter. "The secretariat was in Lahore so of course the court has jurisdiction over it," he told Cricinfo. The court order notes that the tournament director is restrained from shifting offices from Lahore to Mumbai and also, significantly, operating the office from any city other than Lahore. Any move to do so, Rizvi said, may result in a contempt of court application.

The ICC was represented by a legal firm from Karachi, Vellani & Vellani, and had asked for the hearing to be adjourned till it had prepared the case properly. The ICC's legal cell had sent an email to the PCB requesting an adjournment. The next hearing is due on June 2. An ICC spokesperson told Cricinfo, "We don't believe there is any substance to the PCB's claims and we will vigorously defend this matter."

The PCB's civil case against moving the World Cup's head office is one of a series of protests Pakistan has made against the International Cricket Council (ICC) decision late last month to move the World Cup matches scheduled in Pakistan out of the country.

Rizvi believes the PCB has a strong case as it fights the ICC over the decision. A legal notice has also been sent to the ICC over the decision and the PCB wants to refer the case to the Court of Arbitration, Sports, in Lausanne, Switzerland. A clause in the hosting agreement signed in 2006 apparently boosts the case further: clause 23.5 gives co-hosts the option of moving matches to a different city, or even a country should the need arise.

Since the case was filed, the PCB has sought to open back-channel communications over the issue of the World Cup matches with the co-hosts and its chairman, Ijaz Butt, was in Sri Lanka over the weekend meeting his counterpart of the national board there. He is expected to meet Sharad Pawar in India before travelling to South Africa to watch the IPL final.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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