By Iram Salim (Pakdestiny.com) On the one hand India maneuvered the Masters Champions League (MCL) to fail the Pakistan Super League and on the other Najam Sethi helped Geo Super to get its broadcast rights — lovely move, isn’t it.
Both leagues are being played in UAE and let’s see which gets more fan attraction. Sethi will be happy if both go fine as he is part of both the PCB and Geo.
Both leagues are getting started side by side. MCL in a couple of days while PSL in the first week of next week. (The MCL runs Jan. 28-Feb. 13, the PSL Feb. 4-23)
The Masters Champions League (MCL), which boasts Brian Lara and Muttiah Muralitharan, and the Kevin Pietersen-endorsed PSL are embarking on their maiden seasons and seeking to emulate the Indian Premier League (IPL) and Australia’s Big Bash League.
An appetite for watching retired players was illustrated when Shane Warne and Sachin Tendulkar’s “Cricket All-Stars” games drew an aggregate crowd of 83,900 of mostly South Asian expatriates to three matches in the United States in November.
The MCL is looking to that same expatriate audience to fill stadiums in Dubai and Sharjah but so is the PSL, which cannot be held in Pakistan for security reasons and has switched from Qatar to use the same grounds.
The rival leagues play on the same day on seven occasions, creating a dilemma for the most dedicated cricket fans.
“On the commercial side it has created a problem, because we will compete for ticket revenue,” said MCL chief executive Zarah Shah, projecting $500 million revenue over 10 years. “There’s a limited crowd that goes to cricket here. It’s stressful and draining but we’ll make it work.”
Dubai drew sell-out 25,000 crowds to all five IPL games it hosted in 2014 and demographics suggest both leagues could thrive.
Workers from cricket-obsessed India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka constitute about half the UAE’s population.
“Broadly speaking, we know how much is coming in from broadcast rights, title sponsorship, but the big factor is gate money and sale of (corporate) boxes,” said Najam Sethi, chairman of the PSL Governing Council.
“If we’ve 70-80 percent turnout, we’re running away with a lot of money. If we’ve 50 percent things may not look as bright.”
Sethi said television rights would be the PSL’s biggest revenue source, while Shah predicted 60-70 percent of the MCL’s income would eventually come from subcontinent broadcast rights. “The more people that throng the stadiums, the more advertisers back home will see the enthusiasm and then other people sitting on the fence will advertise,” said Sethi. – Pakdestiny