LAHORE: The row over the cost of security lights that might have dampened the glitz of Pakistan Super League (PSL) is ‘apparently’ settled as the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) announced that all nine matches at Gaddafi Stadium will go on as scheduled.
A standoff persisted between the caretaker Punjab government and the PCB for the past couple of days after the former demanded Rs250 million in security costs. The PCB offered to contribute only Rs100m, emphasising that security was solely the government’s responsibility.
PCB Management Committee’s Chairman Najam Sethi on Sunday said the caretaker chief minister had agreed to share the cost of lighting the routes during the PSL matches in Lahore.
“Good news: CM Punjab Mohsin Naqvi Saheb has been kind enough to agree to share the cost of lighting the routes during PSL matches in Lahore. HBL PSL8 matches in Lahore and Pindi shall continue as scheduled,” Mr Sethi tweeted.
PCB, Punjab govt ‘appear’ to have reached agreement
However, Mr Sethi’s tweet has been disputed by the Punjab government.
According to sources, the tweet was “misleading” as the government had not retreated from its position and the PCB would still have to bear the Rs250m procurement cost of security lights.
When contacted, the Punjab government’s focal person on the issue, Ibrahim Hassan Murad, asserted the PCB would bear the cost whether it comes at Rs250m or Rs300m, as per the government’s decision.
On Sunday, Mr Sethi had reportedly contacted the prime minister, who is also the board’s patron, to discuss the issue.
The matter appeared to have been resolved, at least for the time being, as the route taken by the teams — Lahore Qalandars and Peshawar Zalmi — to reach the Gaddafi Stadium for their match on Sunday was illuminated with security lights at dark spots.
Mr Murad said security lights have been installed on the dark spots and the government would ensure the players’ security for all nine matches to be played in Lahore.
However, the matter of who would pay the cost of security lights is still shrouded in ambiguity.
Although Punjab Chief
Secretary Zahid Akhtar Zaman said there was no dispute as the PCB and the government were “on the same page,” he added the issue of funds “would be sorted out in due course”.
“At present, the PSL is more important for Lahore,” he told Dawn.“
Earlier, the Punjab government claimed that the standoff “has been resolved” after it was decided that the PCB will purchase security lights. The government will bear all the costs besides the cost of security lights, it asserted.
According to the interim government, the previous government had spent Rs600m on security lights in 2022 and this year too, the cost was estimated to be over Rs500m.
However, sources in the PCB with knowledge of negotiations, said the board will contribute Rs100m with the government bearing the remaining cost on a one-off basis.
A PCB news release quoting Mr Sethi thanked the interim Punjab CM for agreeing to share the cost of lighting.
“[T]he nine matches at the headquarters of cricket in Pakistan [Gaddafi Stadium], including the four play-offs, will now proceed as per the previously announced schedule,” the press release added.
“I am also thankful to the franchise owners for their overwhelming and unconditional support of the PCB throughout this process. We remain committed to working with the local governments and sharing with them ideas and suggestions on how they can utilise the HBL PSL more strategically to generate revenues, like any other major sport extravaganza,” Mr Sethi added.
The disagreement between the two parties persisted after the government demanded Rs450m for the security lights which would illuminate the route between the hotel and the stadium to ensure adequate security for the teams.
While the government slashed its demand to Rs250m, the unflinching PCB claimed it was the obligation of the government to provide security as per the agreements signed in 2014 for the restoration of international cricket in Pakistan.
Published in Dawn, February 27th, 2023
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