Pakistan Super League postponed indefinitely
The Pakistan Super League, the country's franchise-based Twenty20 tournament, has been indefinitely postponed for the organisers to sort out logistical issues. The PSL, which is run by the Pakistan board, was supposed to be held between March 26 and April 7 in Pakistan but a PCB statement said the delay was to give investors more time to submit bids and also to avoid scheduling conflicts with other cricket tournaments.
The decision was taken on Friday after PCB chairman Zaka Ashraf met the Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad. The postponement wasn't revealed in the press conference that followed the meeting but in a detailed press release that was subsequently issued. The PCB has formed a committee to look for a slot more feasible to the investors to reschedule the tournament.
"The decision to move away from the planned dates of the PSL is an extremely difficult one but for the benefit of all stakeholders and the league," PSL managing director Salman Sarwar Butt said. "The PCB management has decided to reschedule the event and move it to a period where there are fewer scheduling conflicts, and the stakeholders get enough time to develop their business plans."
The PSL business model - unveiled on January 10 - was expected to fetch the PCB "in excess of $100 million over the years." It was to feature five teams and 23 matches, to be played at a single, as yet undisclosed, venue. The PCB had also announced the base prices of players at a proposed auction though they didn't reveal the pool of players who had signed up for the tournament. The board also invited bids for the broadcasters and had been confident of lining up investors for the franchises within a month.
"Over 15 potential franchise buyers, around 10 top broadcasters and various potential sponsors from large business houses have collected the bid documents and shown extremely keen interest in acquiring respective rights," Butt said. "However, there are several other investors who would like us to give them more time for our various rights."
Launching the PSL wasn't a straightforward business for the PCB as no international cricket has been played in Pakistan since a terrorist attack on the Sri Lankan team bus during a Test in Lahore in 2009, and the country is still struggling with its law and order situation. The PCB itself has been hosting home series away from home, mostly in the United Arab Emirates, and no country is ready to provide No Objection Certificates (NOC) to its players for featuring in the PSL.
The Federation of International Cricketers' Associations (FICA) had also raised concerns over the security situation in Pakistan and warned players against taking part in the PSL, calling it an unmanageable risk. The original schedule would have also clashed with the pre-poll campaigns ahead of general elections expected to be held in May.
ESPNcricinfo understands that there were suggestions to stage the PSL outside Pakistan but the PCB decided to keep it in the country, in line with the league's stated objective of "improving the image of the country and revival of international cricket".
"There is no way we are backing down from our major objective," Ashraf said. "We are extremely encouraged by various stakeholders including the broadcasters and financiers from across the world and looking at the response it gives us a lot of confidence that our league is a success. We envisage that as suggested, the shift in our timelines will drive more interested stakeholders towards PSL and make this one of the most sought after league in the cricketing world."
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent