What is the Pakistan Super League?
The PSL is a franchise based Twenty20 competition organised by the Pakistan Cricket Board, and approved by the International Cricket Council. It is meant to be a three-week tournament scheduled for February 2016, and will feature five teams, from Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta and Islamabad. A total of 24 matches are scheduled to be held between February 4 and 23. Each team will play a double round-robin format before playing an eliminator during the knockout stages.
Whose idea was it?
The idea of Pakistan's own T20 league emerged during the regime of Dr Nasim Ashraf, who served as the chairman of the PCB between 2007 and 2008. The league was mainly inspired from the now defunct ICL, and the successful IPL. However, the idea never materialised and till it found its feet, the PCB set-up suffered an impasse as the then chief patron Pervez Musharraf resigned in August 2008, with Ashraf also resigning on the same day to leave the country.
It was reported then that during Ashraf's term, the PCB reserves had fallen from $42 million to $19 million. As a result, the next chairman, Ejaz Butt, pulled out every hefty project from the system and shelved it, including the T20 league. But a year later, the following chairman, Zaka Ashraf, revived the project by announcing a lucrative business model in which top player could earn up to $1 million in two weeks.
Ashraf's brainchild was to hold the league within the country, but since the tournament's schedule clashed with the 2013 general elections, the government refused to take responsibility, which led to the league being postponed again. There was the option to take the league to the UAE, but Ashraf was determined to launch it in Pakistan as a tool to revive international cricket in the country.
The project then took off under Najam Sethi, then an executive board member with the PCB, after Ashraf was removed by the ruling government led by Nawaz Sharif. It took nearly five months for the present set-up to once again blow life into the project. With Shaharyar Khan, the PCB chairman, taking a backseat, the project was left exclusively to Sethi, who was entitled to use the PCB budget. Still, the project appeared dicey for five months until the PSL found a new shape when five teams were sold for $93 million.
What was the confusion about Qatar and UAE hosting the PSL?
Finding a country to host the PSL remained a pain for the PCB as until this August, Pakistan was without a venue. The entire project nearly crumbled after the UAE was taken by another party, who planned on hosting the Master Champions League in the same dates as the PSL.
The PCB then explored Qatar as an alternative venue, but once again, it was not straightforward business. Qatar has just one stadium, which is not up to international standards, and lacks basic facilities for players. The PCB, though, reluctantly entered into a deal with the Qatar Olympics Association to host the league in the country. However, with their hearts still set on UAE as the venue, the PCB later locked horns with the Emirates Cricket Board to work out a deal for the UAE to accommodate both the MCL and the PSL.
In September, the PCB pulled out from Qatar, ditching them to sign a new deal with the ECB, who offered a solution to manage both leagues simultaneously in three venues in the country.The PCB's preference for UAE was because the country had anyway been hosting Pakistan's international matches for many years.
Who are the franchise owners, and what are their links with cricket?
The response for the PSL franchises was not as big as hoped, but the PCB still managed to attract several companies to bid for the five teams. The deal they locked was for $93 million for 10 years, with any given team costing $9.3 million per year.
Salman Iqbal, the CEO of Abdul Razzak Yaqoob (ARY) Group, a holding company with various business ventures including the TV network, bought the Karachi franchise for $26 million. An Oil Company from Qatar, a new in cricket circles, which pitched the second highest bid, won the Lahore franchise for $25 million. Haier Group in Pakistan, a consumer electronics and home appliances company who are already dealing with the PCB to sponsor domestic cricket, acquired Peshawar for $16 million.
The franchise from the capital, Islamabad, went to Leonine Global Sports, an entity created specifically for the PSL by a group of Pakistani investors, for $15 million. Omar Associate, a Karachi-based holding company with various business ventures, secured Quetta for $11 million. Omar Associate already have past links with cricket, having fielded a Grade-2 cricket team and recruited various women cricketers from the domestic circuit.
Who owns the broadcasting and title sponsorship rights?
The PSL's title sponsorship belongs to Habib Bank Limited for three years, while Ten Sports and state broadcaster PTV Sports are the official broadcasters. The value of the broadcasting deal is $15 million, with the PCB selling the production rights to Sunset + Vine. The PCB itself will bear all costs. Global television rights have been given to Tech Front, a UAE-based media rights acquisition company. The sponsorship deal, including the title sponsorship, is estimated to be more than $6 million.
How will franchises earn from the PSL?
At least 80% of the revenue from the broadcast rights will be split equally among the five PSL franchises. Similarly, at least 50% of the revenue from the sponsorship rights, and 50% of the revenue from ticketing sale and the gate money will be equally shared among them. Interestingly, tournaments like the IPL and BPL give their franchises 100% of the revenue collected at the gate. But for the PSL, that chunk is only 50% because the PCB is bearing the cost of the venue in the UAE.
How will the players be picked for the PSL?
There won't be any player auction, with more than 100 players, including foreigners, picked through a draft. Each franchise has a salary-spending cap of $1.2 million, including the signing of players, coaches and support staff. A total of 16 players will be picked up from five different categories - Platinum, Diamond, Gold, Silver, and Emerging.
Each team will have a right to pick five foreign players, with only four allowed to make it into the playing XI. Each of the five PSL teams will get one selection per round to pick a player, and there will be 16 rounds. The draft will be accordingly managed to ensure that one team does not get to pick all the top players from the two top categories. Apart from the 16 players, a team is also allowed four supplemental picks to add to their 20-man squad.
Normally, the team with the worst regular-season record gets to pick first. But since this will be the first edition of the PSL, a lottery system will be used to determine which team gets opportunity to pick first and in the later rounds, the order will be set randomly accordingly to the strength of the prior picks.
Umar Farooq is ESPNcricinfo's Pakistan correspondent. @kalson