The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) issued a press release in response to a story published in The News on Thursday titled ‘PCB allows top Pakistani cricketers to play in dubious Indian-owned league’, which raises more questions than it answers about a lack of transparency and due process adopted by the board in releasing its top players for the non-serious, ten-overs-a-side cricket tournament dubbed ‘T-10 Cricket League’, set to be played later this month in Sharjah.
In its press release, the PCB claimed that the ICC has not disapproved the league and, in fact, has lent the support of its Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to the tournament to ensure it stays free of corruption problems.
The board also admitted it has “taken a fee of US $400,000 from the league to allow only ten of its centrally contracted players to participate in it.”
It further said that “80% of the shares of the company that owns the league are held by Pakistanis..” and that the apprehensions of two PSL franchises regarding the T-10 league were resolved in a meeting earlier and there was no conflict of interest or competition between the T-10 league and PSL.
“Players from six top cricketing national boards like England, West Indies, South Africa, etc have got NOCs to play in this league…. which shows the PCB has released players in a competitive event,” the board argued, adding that “one PSL franchise owner has a financial stake in the league and believes that this supplements its bigger interest in the PSL instead of undermining it.”
Responding to PCB’s statement, The News reporter Usman Manzoor notes that through its press release, the board has indirectly conceded to a lack of transparency and due process by not mentioning the process through which applications were received and evaluated, who was involved in the process including final approval, and more.
Labelling a lack of transparency and due process issue and story as a “media war” and “undermining national interest” is also a defensive posture that exposes PCB, Usman Manzoor from The News argues.
The PCB’s decision was so opaque that it is only through its counter press release we are learning some facts such as the PCB is to receive just Rs 4 crore ($400,000) for allowing its cricketers to play for a private league, that a franchise owner of PSL is part owner of the new league, an admitted conflict of interest that was overlooked and that Indian owners are actually involved though they are in minority according to the PCB, the author notes.
What due diligence did the PCB conduct to ascertain the real ownership and funding of the companies involved? Were Pakistan’s intelligence agencies involved to review the background and funding of these companies and individuals before finalising the deal? How the $400,000 figure was agreed on? What competitive market value evaluation process, SOP or policy the PCB adopted to arrive at this number? Did the private league owners or ECB propose this number and was the market explored in any way to determine the value or seek interest of Pakistani-owned and Pakistan-based companies?
The author further writes that the PCB should share complete details of communication, process and people/committees involved in each stage to support its decision. “It should be noted that in PCB’s own 45th BOG minutes of meeting which this reporter has access to, it was agreed not to support any such venture which does not favour PSL or PCB, indicating that the PCB was aware that this event may have some support of ECB but it still decided not to support it until it benefits PSL or PCB, then why after a PSL franchise obtained stakes in the league, PCB decided to lend support to this league? Will PCB share details of specific observations raised by the stakeholders including the minutes and correspondence of the franchise owners of PSL?” he questions.
The author mentions that he tried to get the PCB’s point of view multiple times via SMS and phone calls on multiple numbers. “PCB press release at least finally gives some light to an otherwise non-transparent and opaque deal,” he writes.
The PCB claims it has contributed players before also to different leagues, but this practice is for official leagues owned by the official cricket boards of the country and not a private league, which is the case this time, the author notes.
“The rights of players at the scale PCB has given is unprecedented and especially to a private league and thus the asset belonging to Pakistan has been given without due process and without assigning a market value which could have been done through exploring and soliciting other offers in a transparent bidding process,” he adds.