LAHORE: A special meeting of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s Board of Governors (BoGs) will be convened in a month’s time to take several important decisions about the next edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), including the induction of the sixth team and how many more matches of the league could be held in Pakistan next year, PSL chairman Najam Sethi said in an exclusive interview to Dawn here on Friday.
“We have to discuss in detail the inclusion of the sixth team in the PSL and it could be Azad Jammu Kashmir or Gilgit or any other,” said Sethi. “This point was also discussed in the last BoG meeting but since a lot of important decisions are to be taken about the next edition of the PSL, a special meeting of BoG will be called to finalise them soon.
“I have already supported the name of the sixth team as AJK in my tweet, but we need a discussion in the BoG to select a final name of the sixth franchise team. Hopefully, the sixth team will be sold out for a lucrative amount, since all the two editions of the PSL have remained successful,” he said.
Sethi further disclosed that with the addition of the sixth team, ten more matches will be increased in the next edition of PSL, making it a total of 34 matches. “But of course it will increase our cost while it will be a good news for the broadcasters as they have bought the PSL rights for three years,” he said. “Measures will also be taken in the special meeting on how to cover the extra expenses that will be incurred on holding ten more matches next year,’” he said.
To a question Sethi said in the next edition of PSL, matches might be held in Lahore, Karachi and Rawalpindi as the security situation had improved a lot and the security agencie were well trained to provide all assistance for the matches.
“I will soon be visiting Karachi to meet the administration there and to get briefing over the security arrangements,” said Sethi.
Commenting on the challenges that he had to confront with in holding the PSL games in the past two seasons, Sethi said there were many. “Ensuring the availability of the stadiums in the UAE was a big challenge in the inaugural edition of PSL while this year, holding its final in Lahore was a huge challenge which also increased the costs,” he admitted.
Let me disclose today for the first time that no franchise was happy over the decision of holding the PSL final in Lahore, because they were afraid of any untoward incident that could happen. But we convinced them that these reservations may be prevailing next year, too, so we have to face the challenge now,” the PSL chairman said.
“Though the decision of hosting the final in Lahore increased our costs manifold, the positive response from all quarters have proved that it was a right decision. Two parallel teams were working, one in Dubai and the other in Lahore, to keep these two venues ready in case of any untoward incident in Pakistan. So that really increased our costs.
“To avoid any financial losses that we may had to face due to simultaneous arrangements in Lahore and Dubai, we decided to fix a higher price of tickets for the final. Thankfully, we are drew level as the final yielded an income of Rs 150million through gate money and almost the same amount was spent on the security and other arrangements, ” he explained. “But next time we will review the ticket rates.”
Asked what was the expected profit in the second edition of PSL, the chairman said it was premature to give any figures but the PSL management had set a target of USD 3million against USD 2.6 million profit it earned from the first edition.
“But this time all the profit will go in the PCB’s kitty as the franchises have no share from it, like the first edition when we paid them USD 2 million from the total profit of USD 2.6 million,” he said.
Outlining the reasons behind the success of PSL, Sethi said it was the result of sheer hardwork from an honest team of people which worked round the clock with dedication on professional lines. He particularly hailed the services of marketing head Naila Bhatti in the successful launching of the league.
“We were close to wrapping up the entire plan of the PSL after receiving cold shoulder from government as well private TV channels as broadcasters. But just then Naila came up with a new formula of buying the time at the TV channels and that really clicked,” he recalled.
“The PSL viewership rating touched a record high 21.23 this time which is way above the rating the past Indo-Pak bilateral series received which was 10,” he revealed.
Speaking about the possible measures that would be taken to avoid further corrupt practices like spot-fixing in the next edition of the PSL, Sethi said: “The BoG has permitted me to hire more security personnel and to make further arrangements to avoid any such mishap the next time. The franchises would also be asked to take more measures to prevent such incidents next time.”
“It is a challenge for us and we have to be more vigilant on this issue the next time,” he added.
Sethi emphasised that the cricketers should be very careful and aware to avoid such people who could trap them in the dirty business of fixing. He hoped the PSL would continue to produce more talented players like Shadab Khan who has proved a match-winner in the first two T20 matches against the West Indies.
The PSL chairman further disclosed that he has also hired the services of a British company which has been assigned the job to closely watch the moments of the all the matches and to report if anything like unusual no balls or any other suspect move has been made. “But the British company so far has failed to give any hint about any corrupt practice during the matches,” said Sethi.
“The final report of the British company is yet to come though, it has produced reports on some matches but has mentioned nothing about any wrongdoing,” he concluded.