LAHORE: The Pakistan Cricket Board has called an emergent meeting with the owners of all the six franchises of HBL Pakistan Super League on Friday to apprise them about the demand of the Punjab government asking for an amount of Rs450 million for providing security to the matches that will be held in Lahore and Rawalpindi from Feb 26 and March 1 respectively.

Dawn has learnt through reliable sources that the provincial government has submitted the bill of Rs450 million in addition to the already-paid amount of Rs50 million for the same purpose as per past practice of the PCB.

But this time, the caretaker government setup in Punjab under Mohsin Naqvi is asking for more. A report last week stated that the Punjab government had demanded a total amount of Rs800 million for matches that were being held in the province.

Matches in Multan have already been completed with the last match in this edition of the glitzy T20 extravaganza in Karachi to be played on Sunday.

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.

Differences develop with Punjab government over security expenses

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. Friday’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 approach to engage private sector in getting that done.

Published in Dawn, February 24th, 2023

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