Chairman of Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) Executive Committee and head of Pakistan Super League (PSL) Najam Sethi on Saturday talked to The Express Tribune in an exclusive interview on Facebook live. His conversation with us covered various topics. Here is a transcript of what he said during his chat.
Sixth team in PSL
Now, two years down the line, we tried to persuade the franchises to add a sixth team and they said no because they thought their losses would go up — the total revenue will then have to be shared between six teams. Although we would have gotten the sixth franchise’s money, we would have been rich and happy, but we had to abide by the terms. But next year, there will be a sixth team in the third edition of the PSL.
‘Sialkot is a deserving sixth team in PSL’
Well, ladies and gentlemen, if you say forget about Dubai and remain in Pakistan and get the next deserving franchise then it will have to be Sialkot. Full stop, it is as simple as that.
On Lahore Final
We have prepared contingency plans. We would like the final to be in Lahore, but if the security isn’t warranted, things are happening which scare people off, then we will have it in Dubai. But we are not going to give up. We are going to try to have two venues ready — Lahore and Dubai. And if security is OK in Lahore, we will fly people out and we’ll get it done and if it is not, then we will have it in Dubai.
We want to have a second draft, possibly in the last days of PSL, because if there are foreign players who want to pull out, they say ‘we are not ready to play in Lahore’ because something happens between now and then, then we want to have a pool of foreign players who are already in Dubai, out of the 30 or 35 that will be available, we’ll need only ten for the final. Then we will have a new draft and try to persuade others to come in. So, we have made preparations for all contingencies. Let’s keep our fingers crossed and pray that terrorism in abated.
Foreign team’s tour
As we speak, we have submitted a security plan to a top foreign board. And we trying to persuade them to come and play some matches as soon as PSL is over. And these are discussions that are in the pipeline. I don’t want to reveal more. But, if that happens, then you will see that the PSL would have created a window of opportunity for the return of cricket back to Pakistan.
PSL not privatised, it’s a subsidiary now
I want to clarify that there is no privatisation; I don’t know where that word is coming from. The constitution of the PCB allows us to set up subsidiaries. Subsidiaries in company parlance are 100 per cent owned companies. This company that we are setting up will be completely owned by PCB. Majority of its directors will members of PCB’s Board of Governors (BoG). Therefore, the entire decision making process, the ownership, the profits, the losses and everything else will be PCB’s.
Then people ask what’s the point to doing all this? You have done a good job with the first edition, you are now doing the second edition, why take it out now? Well, there are two good reasons.
First is, there are foreign exchange regulations in this country; you can bring as much foreign exchange into Pakistan, there are no questions asked but if you want to remit money outside this country, the State Bank [of Pakistan] comes in.
Now the entire money that PSL earns is through domestic sources. We get paid in [Pakistani] rupees at home from domestic sponsors. However, all our payments are in foreign currency. Because it’s the UAE, foreign players, event management, foreign venues all of them are paid in US dollars.
For every payment we have to go to the State Bank for special permission and it is a difficult place to deal with. So, with this problem in mind, we went to the finance ministry and said ‘tell us, what is the way out of this?’ Give the PCB the right to remit money. They said no, we cannot mix the two accounts. Then the idea came that why don’t we make a separate company for which we get separate permission from the ministry of finance?
Second reason is, the PCB constitution doesn’t allow the private sector to come in, in term of decision making — it’s the BoG [who have the decision power]. The BoGs constitute of the departments and the regions, they are the elected people, and then there are two nominees of the Prime Minister.
PSL will have two outside directors now. Their job will be to make sure that the franchises, whose money we are using, should make profits and their money is being spent well. So, these two directors will look at the overall interests of the project as such. We will also ask the franchises to come in, in an advisory capacity. So that all the decision that are taken, in which their money is at stake, all of those decisions, are taken in a mutually beneficial fashion.
So for these two reasons, it was important to move one step away from the PCB but it’s not an independent republic, it’s not even an autonomous republic — only in some ways it’s going to have a degree of freedom.
Terms with Shaharyar Khan
People love gossip, but I have enormous love and admiration for [PCB chairman] Shaharyar Khan. I assure you there are no quarrels and there is no squabbling.
Future of Shahid Afridi
Shahid Afridi is a great star and he will always be star. You know it was wrong for people to suggest that he should be given a farewell match because he is a great star. That is not a practice followed anywhere in the world. However, we want to give him a great send off. And you please give us some time to organise it. I have asked Shahid to come and see so we can plan a great send off.