Lahore - Pakistan's bid to stage its first-ever Twenty20 league received a shot in the arm with the sale of five franchises for R1.3bn for ten years, its cash-strapped cricket board has announced.
The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) had been trying to launch a Pakistan Super League (PSL), an annual competition based on lucrative leagues in India and Australia, but bids in 2013 and 2014 were stalled due to lack of sponsorship.
On Thursday the PCB announced it has sold five teams - from Quetta, Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi, and Islamabad - for the league to be staged in Dubai and Sharjah from February 4-23 next year.
The PCB said top players like West Indian Chris Gayle and former England batsman Kevin Pietersen are among a host of players who have agreed to play in the competition, while it has also attracted leading coaches for the teams.
The coach selection process for all five teams will take place in the next 10 days and the player draft event will take place by the end of December.
"The PCB is proud to announce that the PSL's commercial rights for franchises, title sponsorship, and broadcast have been sold," said a PCB release.
PSL chairperson Najam Sethi, a former chairperson of the PCB, said the deals show progress being made in the PSL bids.
"I am delighted with these positive developments and this is a major achievement in our PSL journey," he said.
"The best part is that all team owners are ardent cricket fans and their dedication will make this league a success."
PCB chairperson Shaharyar Khan last month warned the inaugural edition of the Twenty20 league will suffer losses, but the PCB will earn profits in the following editions.
The PCB has lost close to R1.5bn million in revenue since an extremist attack on the visiting Sri Lankan team's bus in Lahore in 2009 suspended international cricket in the country, forcing them to play at neutral venues in the United Arab Emirates.