If Pakistan cricket team’s horror show of a display against New Zealand wasn’t trouble enough for the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), it appears that it is also having trouble arranging the upcoming edition of its flagship sporting event; the Pakistan Super League (PSL). As many as five out of the total six franchises have failed to clear their dues with the PCB despite the expiry of the given deadline of November 15, 2017. As a result PCB is facing a huge financial deficit of $5 to 6 million required to complete the arrangements for hosting the event in the UAE and Pakistan. With the start of the tournament so close at hands, the board finds itself with little options.

The PCB hopes to cajole the franchise owners to pay up before the tournament starts, but it might not be possible for them to do so. Running a sporting franchise is a massive capital investment and the returns are not always profitable. This is especially true in cricket, where teams and tournaments built on the Indian Premier League (IPL) model have failed to create an environment where teams can reliably make money. This is a global trend, which raised difficult questions for the future of T20 leagues beyond the immediate troubles of PCB

IPL aside, very few T20 teams or leagues are generating a profit. Even the Australian Big Bash League (BBL), widely acclaimed as the best-run T20 league, made a $33 million loss over its first five years, only making profits in its later years.

Even where national boards have been able to make profits, the economic environment of the franchises themselves is completely different. The significant majority of T20 domestic teams throughout the world are still loss-making enterprises. The Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) makes a modest profit for the Bangladesh board, but the actual teams lose $1-1.5 million a year. Similarly, the Pakistan Super League (PSL) makes about $2.5 million a year for the Pakistan board, but the six teams lose at least $1 million a year each.

PCB is not the first to face problems over this lopsided arrangement. The first season of the Global T20 League (GLT20) - South Africa’s advent into the format – was cancelled this year as investors backed out fearing unprofitability.

The PCB may be able to keep the PSL alive by requisitioning emergency funds from the government or exercising the legal option to take over all the defaulting franchises and to sell them again through a new bidding process, but unless this problem at the heart of the whole model is solved PCB will face these problems again.