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December 10, 2017
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PCB chairman first refused then agreed to send Pak players for cricket league

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December 10, 2017

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ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairman, Najam Sethi, on September 10 in a televised interview had clearly announced that the Board will not release its players for T10 league nor would support any such event because it was clashing with the revenues of the Pakistan Super League (PSL).

Najam Sethi had told the media that the PCB had not been formally contacted in this regard and if the Board receives any formal communication, even then it will not put the PSL at stake. After one month of this interview, the PCB chairman decided to endorse the controversial T10 league without due diligence, transparency and proper bidding.

Najam Sethi in an interview to a private television channel said: “It has been decided in the PSL secretariat that the PCB has no association with the T10 league nor will the PCB support this league”. He added: “We would not become part of any such league which will ultimately damage our PSL because its revenues and dates clash with our PSL.”

Sethi maintained that it was a 10-over league and he does not know from where people were bringing this thing, but the PCB will not release its players. “I don’t know what are they planning but I am not in contact with them,” Sethi concluded.

After having such strong views about a league which was in direct clash with the revenues of PSL, the PCB chairman was seen running from pillar to post to release Pakistani centrally contracted players to the dubious league. Exactly what made the change of hearts at the PCB? During this one month, only one development happened i.e. one of the owners of PSL franchise bought some share in the T10 league and Najam Sethi went an extra mile to do that one franchise a favour by releasing Pakistani first tier players to the T10 league without bidding thus making the entire process opaque.

The PCB’s 47th board meeting minutes reveal that in compliance with the guidelines given by the BoG, the PCB has approved its players to participate in T10 League in December, 2017, which was sanctioned by Emirates Cricket Board. “This approval was given after hectic deliberation with all stakeholders including sponsors of PSL to ensure that this decision does not impact the PSL. The PCB has also stood to gain financially as it has negotiated a fee of $400,000 to be paid by the organisers in lieu of issuance of NOCs to our players.”

Observers believe that if the PCB is to get $400,000 from the T10 league for sending its players then how this figure was reached? When no bidding was done to evaluate the share of PCB, how could Board strike such a deal to favour a private company?

Moreover, the PCB’s claim of 80 percent Pakistani ownership in the controversial T10 league has been belied by the documents obtained from the UAE that mention that an Indian millionaire Shajiul Mulk is the owner of the league. Moreover, most of the owners of T10 franchises are Indians, the documents reveal. The FZE documents say that the licence to do business to T-Ten Sports has been issued in the name of Shajiul Mulk. Even the agreement signed with the players and the T10 franchises declare Shajiul Mulk as the owner of the league. One of the agreements obtained by The News says: “T10 sports management FZE, an existing free zone entity, incorporated and existing under the laws of the Emirate of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, with its principal offices situated at Hamriyah Freezone Sharjah, being duly represented by Shajiul Mulk.”

Moreover, documents sent for sponsorship contain the ownership of different teams which too, to the disappointment of PCB, contain mostly Indians instead of Pakistanis. The league promoter is one Vinay D Vyas who too is an Indian, the documents state. The owners of Maratha Arabians are Pervaiz Khan and Sohail Khan, both are Indian. The owner of Bengal Tigers is Mohamed Morani, Indian filmmaker. Shafiul Mulk, an Indian, owns Karalites Kings. Sajan brothers and Neelish Bhatnagar are the owners of Gujarat Tigers. Afghan National Habib Khan is owner of Pakhtuns. Inzamamul Haq is listed as owner of Punjabi Legends. The above facts clearly belie PCB's claim of 80 percent Pakistani ownership in the T10 league.

From official document sent to sponsors earlier, Shajiul Mulk is mentioned as the league’s president, but he later became chairman of the league and owner of PSL franchise Karachi Kings joined as president. The entry of the Karachi Kings owner in the T10 league resulted in the change of hearts at the PCB as the board which had refused to send contracted players to the dubious league in its 45th meeting all of a sudden decided to send first tier players to a private league owned by Indians in its 47th meeting held on November 22.

The PCB was in a hurry to issue NOCs to the players who had central contracts because the franchise owners of the PSL had severe reservations on sending players to a private Indian league. Upon getting such a strong and harsh response from the PSL franchises owners, seniors at the PCB ,who had first refused to send players to the dubious league because it conflicted with the PSL’s revenues, later opted for voting on the issue, but at the end preferred tweeting the decision of supporting the T10 league. The PSL franchise owners are feeling uneasy at PCB’s decision because the T10 league is being held ahead of PSL and it is aimed at undermining the PSL which has now become a brand. The T10 league is being held on the same venue where Pakistan plans to hold PSL and allowing Pakistani players without any evaluation would only undermine the value of PSL.

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