Posted on Monday, August 11, 2014
By Amir Husain
Najam Sethi: PCB was in the dumps when I came along. Fellow ICC administrators used to joke about some of our ex-chairmen. One was alleged to fall asleep during meetings. Another wasn’t able to understand the fine print or argue in English. And so on. The constant ins and outs of the Chairman were terribly unsettling for them. Thank God all that is behind us now.
PakPassion.net: There are contradicting reports on the financial situation of the PCB. Can you clarify the situation regarding PCBs finances, is it as dire as some are saying?
Najam Sethi: I was told one harsh fact by the CFO in my first meeting on the budget that if things continued in the same manner, PCB would be bankrupt in 3 years! I was aghast at the continuing deficit that was eating into our reserves. But during the year ended 30 June 2014 the following are the brief highlights:
- Highest Pretax profits of PKR 800 Million since 2011.
- Profits are PKR 800 Million against budgeted deficit of PKR 366 Million for this year due to austerity measures, economies of all scales & generation of better revenues especially television rights.
- Twelve percent reduction in Administrative cost of PCB as compared to previous year. Mainly because of reduction of staff, elimination of unnecessary travel, elimination of unnecessary advertisement & promo expenses.
- Drastic & large economies in expenses pertaining to cricket series being played at neutral venues. PKR 657M was budgeted while actual expense is about PKR 500 Million – reduction of about 24%.
- Seventeen percent reduction in expenses on tours outside Pakistan. PKR 246M was budgeted while actual expense was PKR 217M.
- Rationalization of other cricketing expenses – Reduction in Coach Fee, Committee Expenses, Regional ground maintenance & operational expenses & players development activities.
- Increase in Investment Income as compared to previous year and budget.
- Complete stopover of massive capital expenditure that was originally budgeted for PKR 2 Billion & was subsequently reduced to PKR 196 Million. This saved millions for PCB & hence greatly contributed towards enhanced liquidity of PCB.
PakPassion.net: You’ve made changes to domestic cricket in Pakistan. Do you think those changes will work and if so, why?
Najam Sethi: Yes they will work because of two factors. Firstly, the entry of the market and sponsors into domestic cricket and secondly, the fact that the next elected board of governors will cement these changes. Don’t forget, out of ten members, of the new BoG, five are those who were members of the Management Committee of which I was chairman that sanctioned these changes. So there will be continuity.
PakPassion.net: How do you think the PCB can encourage fans to take more of an interest in 4 day and 50 over domestic cricket in Pakistan?
Najam Sethi: Everything depends on how much money our new sponsors will put into their regional teams and make cricket exciting enough to bring PTV, GEO and other broadcasters on board.
PakPassion.net: Do you think more domestic cricket should be televised in Pakistan and if so how can that be achieved?
Najam Sethi: Yes, absolutely. That is going to happen. It is the way of the world. Broadcasters will come in if the Sponsors dip into their pockets to make events more exciting.
PakPassion.net: You faced criticism from some on your decision to call-up Younis Khan to the one day squad for Sri Lanka despite the captain & coach being against this decision. Do you not think that could cause animosity amongst the squad and management?
Najam Sethi: On the contrary, the Selectors accepted their error of judgment in awarding him B category and accepted my intervention to set the record straight by granting him A category. And see how Younis has paid us back by scoring 177 in his very first outing!
PakPassion.net: What was the most frustrating aspect of being Chairman PCB?
Najam Sethi: I was struck by the negative role of the media and courts in general and some ex-cricketers with vested interests to protect or axes to grind. Because of my association with one channel, the other channels were hostile towards me. And ex-cricketers who didn’t get the jobs they wanted were overcome by sour grapes. When I cancelled the free foreign junkets of a coterie of journalists nurtured by the ex-chairman that was costing PCB Rs 1 crore every year, I was targeted.
PakPassion.net: What would you say was your greatest achievement as Chairman and what didn’t go so well?
Najam Sethi: I survived the snake pit and put PCB on the rails again!
PakPassion.net: Any words of advice for whoever takes on the role of Chairman next?
Najam Sethi: The next Chairman should follow the merit-based yardsticks I have left behind.
PakPassion.net: Who would you like to see as the next chairman of the PCB? Should this be someone who has done this job before or would you prefer a completely new/fresh face?
Najam Sethi: I hope ex-Foreign Secretary and ex-Chairman PCB, Mr. Shahryar Khan, is elected as the next Chairman. With his vast cricket and diplomatic experience, he will be an asset to PCB like he was as a member of the Management Committee of the last year or so.