The PCB was "surprised and disappointed" by the decision of the six PSL franchises to seek legal action in a bid to get the financial model of the T20 league changed. The board's counsel told Lahore High Court that the franchises' writ petition "was misdirected and was liable to be dismissed" as the proper mechanism for resolving any dispute between the PCB and the franchises is "through initiation of arbitration".
The franchise owners approached the court with the claim that the PSL has made the PCB richer while the franchises have run into losses every season, and asked in the petition for the court to direct the PCB to "formally redress the grievances of all franchises" and "revise the model of PSL in accordance with its statutory mandate and make it financially viable".
The PCB's legal team was in court on Friday, present before Justice Sajid Mahmood Sethi, and "received notices for hearing in respect of the Writ Petition filed by the six franchise owners, fixed today as an Urgent Petition", according to a PCB statement.
Taffazul Rizvi, the PCB's counsel, objected to the "maintainability" of the petition, pointing to the dispute resolution protocols, and informed the judge "that the PCB had twice this week invited the franchise owners to meet and discuss the financial model for HBL Pakistan Super League with a view towards redressing grievances in good faith".
"The PCB remains committed to working with its partners, but in this matter, it is surprised and disappointed that despite its offers to engage in discussions over the financial model and whilst being aware of the appropriate forum for dispute resolution, the franchisees approached the Honourable High Court" PCB statement
The franchises, meanwhile, have contended that they have met with the PCB on more than one occasion to discuss the matter, but nothing concrete has emerged from those interactions. The issue reared its head when the board was late in distributing the franchises' share of the revenue generated during the 2019 PSL. This led to all six owners refusing to submit their bank guarantees, a key part of the petition.
"The PCB remains committed to working with its partners, but in this matter, it is surprised and disappointed that despite its offers to engage in discussions over the financial model and whilst being aware of the appropriate forum for dispute resolution, the franchisees approached the Honourable High Court," the PCB statement said. "The PCB looks forward to addressing all queries and legal-objections before the Honourable Court and then to find solutions that are practicable and acceptable to all parties involved."
The PCB will submit its written comments by September 30, the next date of the hearing, on the court's instructions.
Seeking redressal in court is a culmination of long-running frustration for the franchises about the league's financial model. Franchises have argued for tax exemptions, a better distribution of gate money and better exchange rate terms. No franchise has broken even in the first four full seasons of the league, and the addition of an extra franchise - the Multan Sultans - has lessened everyone's share from the central pool the PCB has set up for revenue.
The PCB has insisted that once the league moves back to Pakistan properly then not only will the franchises be able to move towards breaking even but it will also generate "higher economic activity in the country". This season - the league's fifth - was the first to be fully played in Pakistan, but it was hit by the Covid-19 crisis. Four matches of the playoffs could not be played and have been rescheduled for November behind closed doors.