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Pakistan super league: growing in stature & popularity!

Kudos to the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) for successfully staging the fourth edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) in 2019, which is presently under way; and the first game of this edition between Lahore Qalandars and Islamabad United was exactly the mouth-watering, nail-biting rollercoaster ride cricket starved Pakistani fans had been praying for. With international cricket still eluding us, PSL is the beacon of hope for the return of international cricket to the country.

Moreover, the financial gains have almost mushroomed in the space of just three years. In only the fourth edition of the tournament, the PSL is already recognized as one of the most lucrative cricketing extravaganzas after the Indian Premier League & Australia’s Big Bash League. Also, this is the only league of its kind that is played in more than one country.

According to reliable sources, the commercial rights for the initial franchise for a decade were sold for US$93 million in late 2015. Presently the market value of the PSL is estimated at over US$300 million. For the first edition in 2016, the PCB announced a profit of US$2.6 million. The main title sponsor of the PSL has been Habib Bank Limited (HBL) since 2016. HBL has recently announced an extension of its sponsorship deal for another three years. The 2016-18 sponsorship cost HBL US$5 million per year. The new deal has escalated to US$14.3 million per annum.

Then there’s the question of production and broadcast rights in and outside Pakistan, and digital streaming rights with international conglomerates vying for a piece of the bonanza. According to some pundits, PSL recently secured a 358% higher broadcast deal that should run from this edition till 2022 and the deal is whispered to be around the US$36 million mark.

The deal was secured by a consortium of Blitz Advertising (an international media group) and Techfront (UAE/Chennai based affiliate of Global Sports Commerce) who out-bidded competition that included a joint bid by Pakistan Television (PTV) and Ten Sports, who already hold the rights to all of Pakistan cricket’s international adventures. Techfront also hold the rights to cricket gateway, the online portal for digital streaming of PSL matches. DSports is expected to broadcast live matches of the edition across India, Afghanistan, Bhutan and Nepal. Other channels will be taking the live matches to cricket lovers around the world.

The 3-year bid was optimistically expected to be valued at US$41 million but the recent devaluation of the Pakistani Rupee against the US Dollar brought expectations down to around US$33 million.

“We have successfully exceeded our targets for the new PSL broadcast and live streaming rights,” Ehsan Mani, the PCB Chairman, said. “I would like to congratulate and thank Blitz Advertising and Techfront for partnering with us once again. This is a time-tested partnership and our joint objective, for the next three years, is to ensure that the PSL continues to grow in terms of fan engagement.”

Professional cricketers enhance their worth and value at tournaments like the PSL. They rightfully make their living off fiestas where they are guaranteed a base salary and paid according to the professional categories in which they fall. For instance, a Platinum Category player will receive US$140,000 for participating in the tournament. US$70,000 are promised to Diamond Category players, US$50,000 for Gold, US$25,000 for Silver, and US$10,000 for emerging players.

 

Players who fall into the top category are world-class performers for their various clubs and their national teams. They include the likes of Misbah-ul-Haq, Shane Watson, Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi, Wahab Riaz, Shoaib Malik, Sarfraz Ahmed, Kevin Peterson, Ahmed Shahzad and Umar Akmal.

The Diamond category includes superstars such as Dwayne Bravo, Anwer Ali, Luke Wright, Mohammad Amir, Ravi Bopara, Mohammad Hafeez, Darren Sammy, Sharjeel Khan, Mohammad Irfan and West Indies’ Samuel Badree.

Lower on the salary scale are Gold category players like Mohammad Sami, Brad Haddin, Tamim Iqbal, Kamran Akmal, Imad Wasim, Umar Gul, Zulfiqar Babar, Mohammad Rizwan & Cameron Delport.

According to some sources, the highest salaries in last year’s edition went to Dwayne Bravo, Evin Lewis, Tamim Iqbal, Mohammad Hafeez and Wahab Riaz of Peshawar Zalmi; Misbah-ul-Haq, Alex Hales, J. P. Duminy & Andre Russell of Islamabad United; Shahid Afridi, Mohammad Amir and Colin Ingram of Karachi Kings; Sarfraz Ahmed and Kevin Petersen representing Quetta Gladiators; Sunil Narine of Lahore Qalandars; and Shoaib Malik and Kieron Pollard from Multan Sultans.

The income of management and coaching staff aren’t available but one can estimate a decent purse for everyone in the teams.

American singer Pitbull who was expected to perform at the opening ceremony this year pulled out of his commitment at the 11th hour sighting travel issues. The singer would have reportedly pocketed US$0.7 million for a 10-minute performance. Some have questioned whether the money would have been better spent on local talent but the PCB in its defense was aiming at attracting a global audience with the international mega-star. However, recently reunited local outfit ‘Junoon’ and a member of the 80s pop quartet Boney M did brace the opening ceremony along with Fawad Khan.

Ticket sales started earlier with prices ranging between AED30 and 100 in Sharjah, AED40 and 1450 in Dubai & from AED20 to 125 at the Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi. No details for HBL PSL Global Pass or the Season Pass are presently available on the Q-Tickets website.

Reportedly, tickets for group matches and play-offs in Pakistan are going for PKR500 to 3000. Ticket prices for the final in Karachi are not presently available on the Yayvo website, they are expected to cost between PKR500 & 8000.

With multiple revenue streams generating millions of dollars during the month-long extravaganza, we can expect the PSL to continue to grow as feverishly as limited-over cricket has in the past. Sports fever has never been as lucrative as it is today and this incentive should keep the fans, sponsors and organizers returning for more.

In the end, we must mention those who have made the biggest investments in the PSL, and who may ultimately be responsible for bringing international cricket back to Pakistan.

Islamabad United is owned by Leonine Global Sports.
Lahore Qalandars is owned by Fawad Rana, CEO Qatar Lubricants Co. Ltd.
Quetta Gladiators is owned by Nadeem Omer CEO Omer Associates.
Karachi Kings is owned by Salman Iqbal, CEO ARY Digital Networks.
Multan Sultans is owned by Ali Tareen, owner of Multan consortium.
Peshawar Zalmi is owned by Javed Afridi, CEO Haier Pakistan.

Tj Hussain is a freelance writer and can be contact at tjhussain@gmail.com

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