PSL teams in legal battle with PCB; New commission for league production partners
The six franchises in cricket’s Pakistan Super League have taken the Pakistan Cricket Board to court in an attempt to change the financial model of the Twenty20 competition.
Meanwhile, the governing body has given its endorsement to the consortium of Tower Sports and SportzWorkz that is responsible for the production of the PSL by appointing it for other competitions and matches in the country.
The PSL teams are taking legal action against the PCB arguing that the governing body has prospered while they themselves have run up losses in the five years the competition has been running.
The petition presented to the Lahore High Court on Friday urges it to direct the PCB to “formally redress the grievances of all franchises” and “revise the model of PSL in accordance with its statutory mandate and make it financially viable.”
The PCB remains hopeful that an amicable solution can be found, saying in a statement that it "remains committed to working with its partners, but in this matter, it is surprised and disappointed that despite its offers to engage in discussions over the financial model and whilst being aware of the appropriate forum for dispute resolution, the franchisees approached the Honourable High Court.
"The PCB looks forward to addressing all queries and legal-objections before the Honourable Court and then to find solutions that are practicable and acceptable to all parties involved."
Tension between the PSL franchises and the PCB has been brewing with the teams having sought tax exemptions, a better distribution of attendance money and more favourable exchange rate terms.
None of the teams made a profit in the first four editions of the PSL, and the addition of a sixth team – the Multan Sultans – in 2018 has meant a lower share of revenue from the central pool set up by the PCB.
However, the board argues that the franchises will benefit financially once the PSL is fully established in Pakistan (until this year most matches were played in the United Arab Emirates), while there has also been fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, with the final matches of the 2020 edition having been held over until November.
The legal action comes in the wake of the PCB terminating its deal with Techfront International FZE, the company that has been distributing international media rights to the PSL, citing contractual violations, including matters relating to payments.
In addition, it is embroiled in a legal dispute with domestic rights holder Blitz Advertising over payments for the suspended 2020 tournament with the company having gone to court for a stay order to prevent the PCB activating an insurance guarantee of $6 million, which was held as security for the contract.
However, there is evidently satisfaction with the work of Pakistan’s Tower Sports and Singapore’s SportzWorkz on the PSL, with the pair awarded production rights to the domestic National T20 Cup, first-class Quaid-e-Azam Trophy and the limited overs international series between Pakistan and Zimbabwe in the 2019-20 campaign.
The PCB said the rights were awarded following a request for proposals process involving its pre-qualified production partners.
The consortium stepped in for the 2020 PSL after the PCB split with previous production partner IMG Reliance in a contract dispute.
The production team has been headed up by experienced broadcasting executives Chris McDonald, the chairman of SportzWorkz, and Steve Norris, who worked alongside McDonald at pan-Asian sports broadcaster Ten Sports and spent 12 years at UK telecoms giant BT, helping to launch BT Sport.
The new commission comes after the PCB concluded a new domestic broadcasting rights deal for Pakistan home matches and other national competitions, with state broadcaster PTV.
It has also reached a cable distribution agreement with I-Media Communication Services.
The governing body said it expects to generate increased revenue of more than $200 million from the new broadcasting arrangements through to 2023.