IMG-Reliance withdraws from Pakistan Super League deal

The Pakistan Cricket Board has said it is close to securing a new production partner for its Pakistan Super League after the IMG-Reliance agency yesterday (Sunday) withdrew from its deal for the Twenty20 competition in the wake of a terrorist attack in the Indian region of Kashmir.

IMG-Reliance, an Indian company, agreed a deal to back the PSL in January. The league’s 2019 season commenced on Thursday, with the PCB now having to act quickly to ensure it continues to receive television coverage.

On Thursday, at least 40 Indian paramilitary troopers were killed in what is being reported as the deadliest terrorist attack in three decades in Jammu and Kashmir. The attack has served to further inflame tensions between India and Pakistan.

In a statement issued to the PCB’s Sohaib Sheikh and Kamil Khan, reported by the Press Trust of India news agency, IMG-Reliance said: “Due to unfortunate events a couple of days back which resulted in the death of Indian soldiers, IMG Reliance is pulling out with immediate effect, from offering broadcast production services for PSL. The incident that occurred is deeply regrettable.”

In a statement yesterday, the PCB said it is likely to make an announcement today (Monday) regarding a new partner. IMG-Reliance withdrew from its obligations following yesterday’s PSL matches in Dubai.

PCB managing director Wasim Khan said: “We have been informed by IMG Reliance that they will be unable to partner with us for the remaining HBL PSL 2019 and PCB has reserved all its rights. The PCB always had a contingency plan in place, and we are confident we will be in a position to announce the new partner on Monday after the completion of the formalities.”

Wasim added: “The PCB has also noted the recent turn of events and expresses its extreme disappointment as we have always believed and emphasised that sports and politics should be kept separate. History tells us that sports, particularly cricket, have always played a key role in building bridges between people and countries.

“Unfortunately, denying India cricket fans the right to follow HBL PSL by blocking all digital coverage as well as covering or removing portrait of former Pakistan cricket captain and Prime Minister Imran Khan and other legendary cricketers from one of the most historic cricket clubs and venues are highly regrettable actions.

“The PCB intends to take up these incidents with the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) and the ICC (International Cricket Council) at the upcoming ICC committee meeting in Dubai later this month.”