PCB files damages claim against IMG-Reliance for PSL pull-out

The PCB has filed a claim for damages against IMG Reliance, in relation to its decision to pull out of a deal to produce television coverage of the Pakistan Super League (PSL) earlier this year. IMG Reliance pulled out days after a terrorist attack killed 44 Indian paramilitary troopers on February 14, heightening tensions between India and Pakistan. The claim is to be heard at the London Court of International Arbitration.

According to the PCB, IMG Reliance were sent a legal notice on October 21st, seeking compensation from the broadcaster for the loss the PCB incurred because of the pull-out. The PCB received no reply, prompting them to take the matter to court.

In a PCB meeting set to take place on Friday, Chairman Ehsan Mani will brief the Board of Governors about the move. The PCB is set to state that the “breach of contract by IMGR could have resulted in the remaining PSL matches not being broadcast on television; this would have severely damaged the standing and reputation of the PSL.”

The abrupt decision by IMG Reliance left the PCB at the time scrambling to find another broadcaster. And because of the compromised position it left the PCB in, revenues took a hit because of the new deal. It took two days for the PCB to strike a deal with Blitz and Trans Group, who bought the rights to arrange television broadcasts for the PSL for approximately USD 36 million, with this deal set to run till the end of the 2022 season.

The PCB’s relations with IMG Reliance soured thereafter. For the five-match ODI series against Australia in March, and the recently concluded limited-overs internationals against Sri Lanka in Pakistan, the PCB had stipulated to Blitz and Trans Group that IMG Reliance would not be involved with the process in any way, and that the PCB had blacklisted them.

The fallout of the attack on Indian paramilitary troopers continued to afflict the PSL beyond its TV coverage. Military tensions between India and Pakistan necessitated much of Pakistan’s airspace to be closed, and meant the three fixtures of the PSL scheduled to take place in Lahore had to be moved to Karachi. For a time, the India-Pakistan game at the World Cup was under threat, though it did eventually go ahead.

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