Punjab interim Chief Minister Mohsin Raza Naqvi has said that the provincial cabinet is against taking up the task of spending money for the Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches scheduled to take place in Lahore and Rawalpindi.
“Last year, Rs600 million were spent on security arrangements for PSL matches in Punjab,” Naqvi told journalists during a media talk in Lahore on Friday, as speculations are rife about the rest of the matches being shifted to Karachi altogether.
“Since we are an interim setup, we don’t have the authority to spend such a heavy amount. The cabinet is also against such an expenditure,” the caretaker chief minister noted.
The development came after the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) gave an ultimatum to the Punjab gov-ernment over holding the PSL season eight matches in the province.
Lahore is the designated venue for the final, one qualifier and two eliminators with fans in the Punjab capital as well as Rawalpindi having already bought tickets for the games.
But the PCB is taking austerity measures after suffering huge losses amounting to Rs1billion in organising the Pakistan Junior League during the tenure of former chairman Ramiz Raja and it has made its mind not to pay such a huge amount. Fri-day’s meeting could therefore, see matches set for Lahore and Rawalpindi shifted to Karachi.
In stark contrast with the Punjab government, the Sindh government had asked for Rs30million for matches in Karachi.
“The PCB has never paid such a huge security expense even when organising the PSL in the United Arab Emirates,” sources said.
“The PCB has the stance that since the PSL is a national brand, serving a huge national purpose, therefore the government should come out with open heart for it.”
The main security expense incurred for holding PSL matches is the installation of lights on both sides of the routes of the teams travelling from the hotels to the stadiums — 12-15 kilometres in both Lahore and Rawalpindi — with generators required to power them.
In the past, discussions were held regarding the construction of hotels closer to the stadiums in order to minimise the security expense but neither the governments nor the PCB showed any serious ap-proach to engage private sector in getting that done.
According to sources, PCB is considering the possibility of shifting the Punjab leg of PSL 8 to Karachi after receiving a hefty bill from the provincial government.
The PCB and the PSL franchises unanimously decided Friday not to pay an additional cost of Rs450m to the Punjab government.
If the bill is not waived by tomorrow, the matches will be officially shifted to Karachi. A meeting between PCB and the Punjab government, to discuss the matter, is also scheduled to take place.
According to sources, the PCB has already started preparations for holding additional matches in Karachi. Meanwhile, the revised schedule has also been discussed with the franchises.
The deadlock could also result in white-ball matches between Pakistan and New Zealand, in April and May, being moved out of Punjab.—Agencies