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PSL: A lucrative league in South Asia

In the cricket world, Pakistan Super League (PSL) emerged as one of the most valuable leagues in South Asia after the rise of Indian Premier League (IPL) and Big Bash League (BBL). This month, the fourth edition of PSL has been kicked off with a total of 34 matches out of which 26 will be played in the UAE, while eight matches will be played in Pakistan. Some top cricketers from all over the world will participate in this premier T20 tournament. Each team will play 10 matches with the top four teams being eligible for the knockouts. The matches will be played among six teams — Islamabad United, Peshawar Zalmi, Quetta Gladiators, Karachi Kings, Lahore Qalandars and Multan Sultans. The PSL’s defending champions are Islamabad United as they had defeated Peshawar Zalmi in the PSL 2018 final at the National Stadium in Karachi to lift their second title after having won the PSL in the inaugural season in 2016. Peshawar Zalmi had won the 2017 edition of the Pakistan Super League.

South Asia is considered as cricket’s financial powerhouse generating nearly 70 percent of the sport’s world revenues. Cricket is the most popular game in South Asian countries.

There is a craze for cricket in South Asia. Cricket has gone beyond being a national phenomenon to a more global or trans-national one. In the inaugural match of the 2004 Champions’ Trophy in England, not a single advertising billboard was from a local company. Every company advertised was from the sub-continent. And South Asia, despite being a late and tardy entrant in the contest to win the rights to host the 2011 World Cup, was eventually a runaway winner. Finally, World Cup ticket sales pointed to the class differentiation across South Asian diasporas of the world.

The fortunes of the South Asian cricket teams encapsulate the story of post-colonial South Asia. Cricket provided a global forum for Pakistan and India to demonstrate talent and spirit, and defeat more advanced nations, such as England and Australia. Cricket is played with equally fervent passion on both sides of the border has the power to be an instrument of peace. It can bring the two archrivals to the negotiating table for resolution of bilateral issues. Modern cricket is truly a trans-national phenomenon, which obsesses the cosmopolitan global South Asian who transcends the geographical boundaries of the nation. Cricket is still wildly popular in South Asia in an era of computers. Millions of youngsters across South Asia can be seen in streets playing cricket. During the World Cup despite fans around the world, the all-consuming love of cricket is in South Asian nations and it is a joy to see street cricketers playing everywhere.

An article, ‘South Asia’s cricket obsession’, published by BBC News in December 2006 said, “Cricket, religion at home and a symbolic flexed muscle in the international arena, is thus South Asia’s best-known brand name. Cricket for South Asians across the world provides a space where all differences are overcome. The assertion of an Indian or Bangladeshi identity globally, expression of cultural nationalism or feeling of emotional commonality are all rooted in cricket…In recent times, Bollywood and cricket have emerged like the ubiquitous Indian curry that is fancied as an authentic flavor of India the world over.” Experts believe that there is nothing bigger in the world of cricket than the World Cup, particularly when it is held in the subcontinent evoking immense passion and excitement than any other region on the globe.

 

A handsome financial bonanza is associated with PSL 2019 T20 league. The mega event certainly promises higher profits. Pakistani games makers have reportedly once again displayed their unmatched talents in the world and indigenously designed a game without any support of government. The games development company is likely to attract millions of dollars amid wildfire fame in the coming months.

PSL has now become a major source of revenue. In 2018, Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) achieved its income targets as PSL in only its third year of operations emerged as the most successful brand in Pakistan. Last year, the PCB Governing Board members approved the annual budget for fiscal year 2018-19 with a total income target of Rs6.4 billion and expenditure of Rs5.7 billion (without PSL). The budgeted income for 2018-19 is 133 percent more than previous year’s income of Rs 2.79 billion. The PCB also budgeted to spend Rs916.36 million on domestic cricket which is 89 percent more than what was a year ago. Likewise, budgeted expense on cricket development, talent hunt, academies programs, etc, is estimated at Rs1 billion which was 52 percent more than the previous year. Out of total capital expenditure planned for the current financial year, Rs2.66 billion had been allocated to building cricket related infrastructure mainly comprising stadiums in Karachi, Rawalpindi and Multan and also for cricket academies at Lahore, Multan and Karachi.

A few months before of the fourth edition of the celebrated PSL, the PCB signed a $14.30 million title sponsorship deal with the Habib Bank Limited (HBL). Some news reports claimed that the PSL franchises had demanded of increasing their share in income. The team owners reportedly refused to disclose their finances and asked the PCB chief to avoid bringing matters to the public. The reports also claimed that the franchises would earn 80 percent of the revenues while remaining will go to the cricket board. The PCB Chief Ehsan Mani, however, declined demands by PSL franchises to increase their share in income.

According to some reports, the PSL franchises incurred losses ranging from Rs200 million to 700 million each in the first two seasons of the league. There is a dire need for a financial restructuring of the league as well as tax exemptions from the government. The PSL franchises have so far raised concerns over the amount of tax they have to pay on top of their franchise fees and other operational expenses, they contend that high tax contributes to the losses they have been incurring over the past three seasons. Lahore Qalandars reportedly finished last each season incurring the largest losses in 2016 and 2017.

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