The second season of the Afghanistan Premier League (APL) has been postponed to 2020 after the league's commercial partner failed to pay the Afghanistan Cricket Board (ACB) rights money. The ACB has terminated the agreement, also citing concerns about the integrity of people associated with Snixer Sports, the partners. The tournament had been scheduled for October this year.
"The failure by Snixer Sports to pay the complete rights fees of the first edition as per the fees and payment schedule of the agreement, and concerns about risks for integrity of the league posed by people connected to Snixer Sports are the reasons for termination that form material breaches of the agreement," the ACB said in a statement.
The allegation around the integrity of the people involved is especially pertinent, given the talk swirling around the league in its first season. Mohammad Shahzad reported an approach and it was one of the leagues the ICC's ACU was keeping an especially close eye on: there were, it is understood, a number of other approaches made that were reported by players to the anti-corruption body.
The ACB has written to the Attorney General's Office of the Government of Afghanistan to "fully investigate the administrative allegations of corruption in the league" and that it remained committed to "ensuring transparency in all its affairs and is accountable to all stakeholders."
Following the signing of the tournament's MoU in January last year, the first edition of the league was held between October 5 and 21 in Sharjah, UAE and featured a host of international names. Chris Gayle, Shahid Afridi, Andre Russell, Brendon McCullum and Rashid Khan were picked as icon players by the five franchises, representing Paktia, Kabul, Balkh, Nangarhar and Kandahar.
A tender for commercial rights to the second season of the league will be issued in due course.
The league is the second T20 league to run into problems in as many months. In August, the inaugural season of the Euro T20 Slam was cancelled, only two weeks prior to its scheduled start. The Euro T20 Slam organisers, led by Gurmeet Singh's Bombay Sports Limited and Woods Entertainment, the same group in charge of the Global T20 Canada, had run into increasing financial difficulties. The Global T20 Canada, too, faced issues, with player protests over unpaid wages.