Pakistan plans new high-profile league
ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is planning a major new football competition modelled on cricket's hugely successful Indian Premier League in a bid to revitalise a sport which has long stagnated.
The Pakistan Football Federation (PFF) is in talks with potential sponsors for the proposed league, which would feature six city-based teams playing each other in Lahore, officials told AFP.
Pakistan has had a "premier league" for the past nine years, but coaches and fans complain of poor standards, awful pitches and walkovers.
Government teams dominate the Pakistan Premier League (PPL), snapping up the best talent with generous sports budgets and leaving private clubs to struggle.
Unsurprisingly, neither fans nor sponsors have much appetite for supporting the likes of current PPL champions Khan Research Laboratories (KRL), or the evocatively named four-time winners, the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA).
Television coverage is non-existent and crowds for most matches number in the hundreds. Naveed Haider Khan, marketing consultant at the PFF, said the new competition would give football a much-needed shot of razzmatazz."We're going to be giving cash incentives, we'll look after their transportation, their accommodation, we'll be trying to project it very heavily on television so people get the insight of what is happening in football," he said.
"We want to glamourise this game in Pakistan, we want to run it like the IPL in India with cricket," he told AFP.
The competition is dependent on sponsors coming forward, but the PFF hopes to run it in May or September, Khan said, and if all goes well there are plans to expand the competition next year -- and even try to lure foreign players.
The federation is keen to focus on development. From next season each PPL team will be required to have at least two under-19s players in their squad on match days, Lodhi said, and a series of FIFA-funded academies are due to open this year. (AFP)
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