Earlier this year, Pakistan revealed plans to start its own Twenty20 franchise competition to rival the IPL. The Pakistan Super League (PSL) will take place from the 4th of February till the 24th and will include one franchise from each of the four provinces, and a team from the capital, Islamabad.
Najam Sethi, chairman of the PSL’s governing council believes “When it’s launched, this will be the second-top league in the world." He said in a report for the Wall Street Journal. "India, Pakistan, [the] Middle East, our populations are so huge and there’s such interest in watching cricket that the financial feasibility is fulfilled just by them.”
There are similar competitions in many of the top cricket playing countries, India's IPL is by far the greatest viewed, Australia's Big Bash and England's T20 Blast have tried to rival this.
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The suggested prize money for the competition is thought to be up to $1 million, and it is likely the competition will include many of the worlds top cricketers. However, the competition will not actually be taking place in Pakistan, it will be hosted in the United Arab Emirates.
The matches will be expected to reach huge viewing figures around the world, especially in Pakistan and the Middle East. The crowds for the IPL 8 (the eighth season of the competition) is said to have attracted over 182 million viewers.
Earlier this year, Zimbabwe became the first international team to play cricket in Pakistan in six years. Foreign teams had refused to visit Pakistan citing fears over security. This was due to an attack on the Sri Lankan national cricket team who were attacked by militants on the way to a game in Lahore in 2009.
During this time, there has been a huge rise in cricket within the UAE, who have hosted many of the international home fixtures on Pakistan's behalf. The UAE cricket team have themselves benefitted from this, having featured in the World Cup for the second time in their history at the recent ICC World Cup hosted by Australia and New Zealand in 2015.
The motive for Pakistan playing away from home may be mostly due to security reasons but it is not the first sport to play its home matches away from its local fans. The NFL now regularly play matches at Wembley to try and increase the popularity of the sport in the UK and Europe. From 2017 they have also agreed to play matches at the new Tottenham stadium. The agreement between the NFL and the north London outfit will bring at least two matches a season, and is thought to increase the popularity of the sport even further.
The International Business Times reports that in 2014, the three games that took place at Wembley created $32 million revenue and the match between Jacksonville Jaguars and the Dallas Cowboys had a sellout crowd of 83,603 fans.
How long before other sports relocate in favour of maximising their sports marketing power and making their sport truly global. Could the English Premier League play matches in the Middle East? Could England's cricket leagues move abroad in the future? Or the English Aviva Premiership (Rugby Union) move to America?