Broadcasting rights holder takes PCB to court over PSL money row

Updated 05 Jul 2020

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Lahore Qalandars' Samit Patel (R) celebrates the dismissal of Quetta Gladiators' Azam Khan (2R) during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on March 7, 2020. — AFP/File
Lahore Qalandars' Samit Patel (R) celebrates the dismissal of Quetta Gladiators' Azam Khan (2R) during the Pakistan Super League (PSL) T20 cricket match between Lahore Qalandars and Quetta Gladiators at the Gaddafi Cricket Stadium in Rawalpindi on March 7, 2020. — AFP/File

KARACHI: The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) is quite determined to complete the Pakistan Super League (PSL) season five by holding the remaining semifinals and the final later this year to decide the title winner of the league. It has been learnt that the PCB is very keen to find a suitable window for holding the remaining games around November, either in Pakistan or in the UAE, but that, of course, depends largely on the Covid-19 situation at that juncture.

However, according to ESPNCricinfo, the financial impact of the unfinished fifth season of the PSL is creating problems for the PCB which is apparently at the loggerheads now with the league’s broadcast-rights holder and have come to legal blows over the money due for the season.

The ESPNCricinfo reports that the fifth edition — the first held in its entirety in Pakistan — had to be curtailed just before the knockout stages due to the fast-spreading pandemic threat. That has now led to Blitz Advertising and Techfront — who signed up for the broadcast rights in 2018 in a US$36 million deal — holding back a payout to the board for this season.

According to the PCB, the contract states that payment is conditional to the scheduled day of the last match and once that payment did not come through this season, the PCB cashed an insurance guarantee from the broadcaster (held as security for the deal) of PKR 1 billion. It is that act that Blitz has taken a stay order out against in the civil courts in Lahore.

“Our dispute with the PCB is on issue of completion of PSL 2020 Tournament,” a Blitz official told ESPNcricinfo. “PCB has announced/declared since March 17th that four matches including semi-finals and final shall be held later in year 2020 and is postponed until then. According to our agreements with PCB, it is stated clearly — we are to pay the rights fees only after the last match of the PSL 2020 tournament is held and declared. Since last match of the PSL 2020 has not been held and/or declared by PCB, therefore the Rights Fee is not due and payable under the agreements.

The ESPNCricinfo report says that, “Blitz was constrained to seek legal remedy through courts, refraining encashment of guarantee since the payment was not due until the last Match of PSL 2020 was declared by PCB. Blitz, in the last five years of its relationship with PCB has honored all its obligations in accordance with the agreements. However in this instance, Blitz in view of PCB’s unjustified demand had no other option but to approach courts for relief.”

Published in Dawn, July 5th, 2020