The remainder of the PSL may be transferred in its entirety to Karachi following a financial dispute between the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) and the caretaker government of Punjab. The decision will be taken after a meeting, chaired in the afternoon, with all franchisees.
The dispute concerns how to split the security costs to host the tournament, with the interim government of Punjab demanding that the PCB pay PKR 450 million in security costs to host the tournament in Lahore and Rawalpindi. This figure also includes the costs incurred by the government to host matches in Multan.
The PCB, on the other hand, had an agreement to pay only PKR 50m with the previous government which was dissolved in the last week of January and the board paid this amount as agreed.
According to a PCB official, the government of Sindh does not require the PCB to pay a share of security costs, and only requires remuneration for servicing security personnel. This cost is understood to be around PKR 30m.
The PCB is also willing to pay for catering in Punjab, but is reluctant to pay the security bill, which they consider the responsibility of the local government. A PCB official pointed out that the government had also paid the security bill for hosting cricket in the province in the past and that the financial burden of security costs would be too onerous. If the PCB was obliged to pay this money, it is understood that there was an expectation that the franchisees would also pay part of this bill. Moving the entire tournament to Karachi, in this case, would save both parties money.
But PCB and franchisees are not necessarily on the same page. One franchise owner ESPNcricinfo spoke to was against any schedule changes, saying it was inappropriate of the PCB to draw franchise owners into a falling out between him and the Punjab government. They said the PCB informed the owners about the possible move to Karachi at the last minute via email and had not yet formally spoken to them. They appealed to both parties to resolve the issue in a way that would not disrupt the PSL’s schedule, believing that confining the remainder of the tournament to one city would harm the PSL.
Punjab government officials ESPNcricinfo spoke to paint about a dispute that had been ongoing for some time. A senior member of the Punjab civil service said that the government implored the PCB to share some of the considerable cost of organizing security for its main tournament, pointing out that there were three separate venues in Punjab that required security measures – Lahore, Rawalpindi and Multan. Sindh, meanwhile, has only one – the National Stadium in Karachi. Since cricket has returned to Pakistan, Punjab has hosted more PSL and international cricket, with costs increasing over time.
It is unclear whether the specifics of cost-sharing were resolved prior to the PSL, but the broader political context may also have played a role. The Punjab government has seen a significant upheaval in recent months, with Imran Khan’s PTI party stepping down from rule in Punjab. The PCB had initially resolved logistical considerations with the PTI provincial government in Punjab, with the government reportedly agreeing to pay all security costs. However, with a different setup at the helm since January, it seems certain differences have come to a head.
The PCB has called an emergency meeting of the PSL governing council for Friday afternoon to discuss the various options of who and how to pay the additional cost to the interim Punjab government, as well as exploring the possibility of transferring the remaining 20 matches from Punjab to Sindh and discuss who will bear the additional cost of relocation.
The first 12 PSL matches took place in Karachi and Multan. The first match in Lahore is scheduled for 26 February, with the first match in Rawalpindi on 1 March. The playoffs and the final – on 19 March – were originally scheduled for Lahore.
Additional reporting by Umar Farooq
Danyal Rasool is a sub-editor for ESPNcricinfo. @Danny61000