Ramiz Raja wants to explore idea of PSL players auction instead of draft

KARACHI: Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Chairperson Ramiz Raja wants to look into the concept of introducing an auction to the Pakistan Super League (PSL) instead of the players draft the league currently uses, in an effort to strengthen the league,

The PCB boss wants franchises to be able to pick players for longer-term contracts on higher pay. This idea was reportedly well received by the PSL franchises after a meeting between them and Raja this weekend, the publication reported, citing Cricinfo. But it stated that an obstacle in the way of these changes is the “long-standing impasse between the board and franchises over the league’s financial model”.

Ramiz’s ideas are reportedly being labelled “ambitious”.

Franchises argue that PSL’s current revenue distribution model is “preventing them and the league from flourishing”, the publication reported.

With the league now six seasons old, four out of the six franchises, it is said, have yet to break-even on their investments.

All six teams get an equal share from a central revenue pool each season (which comes from the league’s broadcast rights and commercial deals). The annual franchise fees range from between $1.1 million to $6.35 million, and the board makes $15.65 million every season from that, and also takes 15% from the broadcast revenue stream.

For comparison, in the IPL, the original eight franchises paid fees over a 10-year period, beyond which they don’t have to pay any annual fee. In the Caribbean Premier League, the franchises have rights for 25 years.

The PSL franchises, on the other hand, have a ten-year contract. The PSL franchises also bear the broadcast production costs every year, while the PCB covers the ground and match officials costs.

Last year, matters came to a head when the franchises took the PCB to court over the issue. It happened not long after the PCB had become entangled in legal disputes with the league’s broadcast-rights holder.

Franchises take PCB to court

The Lahore High Court asked the PCB to work with franchises and settle their issues out of court.

After a series of meetings with the franchises, then PCB chairperson Ehsan Mani engaged a former Chief Justice of Pakistan, Tassaduq Hussain Jillani, on a one-man independent panel to recommend a solution. The judge submitted that report earlier this month, though the PCB has not shared that with the franchises, saying it was a confidential document.

It was reported that the PCB’s reservation on the report so far is understood to stem from its fears over the legal implications of a change in the model of the PSL and the agreements on which the league was formed.

PCB officials are believed to be worried that a change in the PSL model may attract the attention of the state’s financial oversight and regulatory authorities such as the National Accountability Bureau (NAB), the Public Account Committee (PAC) and the Auditor General of Pakistan. Such groups have, in the past, got involved in these matters.

In 2016, for example, former PCB chairperson Najam Sethi was questioned by the PAC for authorising payments of $400,000 to each franchise. These payments were designed to offset losses made by the franchises in PSL’s first season.