Saturday December 02, 2023

PCB-Punjab govt standoff resolved

Najam Sethi announced eight PSL 2023 matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi would continue as scheduled

By Ali Raza & News Desk
February 27, 2023
A representational image of Pakistan Cricket Board building. — AFP/File
A representational image of Pakistan Cricket Board building. — AFP/File

LAHORE: The standoff between the Punjab government and Pakistan Cricket Board was resolved late Sunday evening and PCB Management Committee Chairman Najam Sethi announced that eight HBL Pakistan Super League (PSL) 2023 matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi would “continue as scheduled”. 

He expressed his gratitude to caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Raza Naqvi for being “kind enough to agree to share cost of lighting routes during PSL matches in Lahore.”

The provincial government and PCB had remained locked in negotiations over security arrangements for the matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi with the former demanding Rs450 million for security.

According to a press release issued by the PCB later, the agreement between the Punjab government and cricket board is on a “one-off basis”.

“It gives me immense satisfaction that the passionate and die-hard cricket fans of Lahore will now be able to see in action, modern day’s best T20 cricketers and enjoy them battle out for the prestigious Supernova Trophy.

“Following matches played in Karachi and Multan, the league has already set the tone for thrilling and exciting matches ahead, and I am confident that more entertaining and nail-biting games will be played over the coming days.

“I am also thankful to the franchise owners for their overwhelming and unconditional support to the PCB throughout this process. We remain committed to working with the local governments and sharing with them ideas and suggestions on how they can utilise the HBL PSL more strategically to generate revenues,” the press release quoted Sethi as saying.

The Punjab government had previously agreed to light up the route from the team hotels to the Gaddafi Stadium, but its standoff with the PCB had continued to drag on, making it seem like the PSL would be shifted from Lahore and Rawalpindi to Karachi after an agreement on security expenditure eluded the two sides, on Saturday.

The Punjab government had lowered its demand for security funds — from Rs450m to Rs250m — but the PCB was refusing to flinch, stating that it was the obligation of the government to provide protection to the teams, as per the agreements signed in 2014 for the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.

The Punjab government said Sunday evening the deadlock with the PCB had ended as the board had agreed to pay the cost of installing lights on the route of the teams. In the year 2022, the Punjab government spent Rs600 million on installing security lights on the route of the teams from The Mall to the Gaddafi Stadium. The provincial government’s official said from now onward, the PCB would pay for the cost of installing lights, which would save millions of rupees to the Punjab government.

Earlier, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif assured Najam Sethi of full support. The latter had reached out to PM Shehbaz Sharif on Sunday and discussed the issue with him. Sources said the PM assured him that the PSL matches in Lahore and Rawalpindi would not be disturbed.

Sources said Najam Sethi complained to the PM that the provincial government was demanding money from the PCB for providing security and basic facilities. He told the PM the PSL was a national event and it was the responsibility of the institutions to organise it. If they did not withdraw the demand for money, the PCB would be forced to shift the matches to Karachi, he said.