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ICC must take a stand on Ten Sports, says PCB chairman

MUMBAI: With the proposed India–Pakistan series stuck in limbo due to the Indian cricket board’s disapproval of the Pakistan Cricket Board’s (PCB) official broadcast partner Ten Sports, PCB chairman Shahryar Khan has suggested that the International Cricket Council (ICC) must take a stand on the ZEEL-owned sportscaster.

Ten Sports had last month renewed its deal with the PCB for another five years with a winning bid of $150 million, which is $60 million more than the second highest bid.

Subhash Chandra-promoted Essel Group, which also owns ZEEL, had recently revealed plans to start a cricket project in a bid to take the sport to newer territories like the US and China. According to media reports, Chandra has registered company in different territories resembling the names of ICC-affiliated cricket boards. It has also registered domain names like globalt20.com and worldcricketcouncil.co.in. The move has given rise to fears of a split in world cricket.

“If the BCCI does not want to give us in writing about the issues they have with Ten Sports, then they must go to the ICC and tell them about the new league they [Essel Group] are planning to start and tell the ICC that it will be against the IPL and that will be against the ICC also. On our part, we are against any other league, other than the IPL. If the ICC feels they are starting a new league, then it has every right to knock them out. Let the ICC take a stand against Ten Sports,” Khan, who is in India to convince the BCCI to hold the series, told The Indian Express.

Khan said that the ICC will have to weigh the legal implications vis-à-vis Essel and Ten Sports. “My information is that the head of Essel Group has been meeting ICC officials and assuring them that they are not starting any league. So it makes it legally complicated to knock out Ten Sports or the Essel Group,” he pointed out.

He argued that the BCCI should stop playing bilateral series with all the cricket boards that have Ten Sports as the broadcast partner rather than singling out the PCB.

Khan also said that the PCB would not have allowed Ten Sports to take part in the bidding had the BCCI given its concerns in writing.

“Ten Sports owns broadcasting rights in South Africa, Sri Lanka, and the West Indies. So why only punish Pakistan? Logically, you must cancel all tours with all countries that have Ten Sports as their broadcaster. We had told the BCCI to give us in writing, in advance, the reservations they have about Ten Sports. We told the BCCI, if they write to us, then we will ensure they [Ten Sports] don’t take part in the tender process. We will tell them ‘sorry you are not acceptable to the other side’. But they wouldn’t send us a letter,” he stated.

He also lamented the fact that the PCB had no option but to give the rights to Ten Sports as the next bidder had quoted $60 million less than Ten Sports’ bid amount of $150 million. The Indian broadcasters did not show interest in the rights with one not even coming for the bid.

“We knew that the BCCI had reservations about Ten Sports being given the contract. I am telling you frankly, we did not favour Ten Sports. We, in fact, favoured an Indian broadcaster getting the rights. The problem was that Indian broadcasters were not keen to come. Of two major broadcasters, one did come for the bidding. But when the bidding took place, they were well short of the bid made by Ten Sports. We tried our best to get other companies to bid with them or bid as much as them [Ten Sports] but they didn’t come forward. So our hands were tied,” he said.