KARACHI: Talk of a franchise football league in Pakistan is back on.
Nearly two months after seizing control of the Pakistan Football Federation headquarters from the FIFA-appointed Normalisation Committee — which led to a ban from the global football body, the group of officials led by Ashfaq Hussain Shah is looking to launch what it couldn’t two years ago.
And the idea has been floated 10 days after an explosive news conference in Lahore where apart from providing evidence of manipulations and perversions in the working of the PFF NC, the Ashfaq group — which came into power after a PFF election held by the Supreme Court in 2018 which wasn’t recognised by FIFA — termed the ambitions of NC chief Haroon Malik to hold a league of his own a “conflict of interest”.
In March 2019, months after the Supreme Court-held election, Ashfaq group had agreed to a partnership with England-based TouchSky Group to develop football in the country which included the holding of a franchise league.After Ashfaq’s PFF held their Executive Committee meeting on Saturday, its vice-president Sardar Naveed Haider Khan told Dawn that “the same group is behind the launch of the inaugural Pakistan Football League in December this year”.
TouchSky CEO Ahmer Kunwar, though, denied any such partnership during a conversation with Dawn on Sunday.
Sardar Naveed said that a detailed plan regarding the five-team PFL, which will be held on similar lines to cricket’s glitzy Twenty20 Pakistan Super League, “will be given during a press conference in the coming weeks”.
“Pakistan’s talented players will be given the opportunity to play on merit,” Ashfaq’s PFF said in a news release on Sunday. “This league will be introduced with a new vibe which will be a milestone in the history of Pakistan football and whenever a national team will be formed the players of this great and glorious league will join it.”
The PFL isn’t initially going to replace the Pakistan Premier Football League, currently the country’s top-tier tournament which is due to be held in August.
The Ashfaq group has also announced it will hold the National Under-23 Championship in June this year.
Published in Dawn, May 31st, 2021