PCB says no to hosting of World Cup games at neutral venue

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KARACHI, (IANS) Pakistan have given up the demand of hosting its quota of 2011 World Cup games at a neutral venue, the country’s cricket chief Ijaz Butt said yesterday. The Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) chairman told reporters that the agreements signed by all the four co-hosts don’t allow the provision of any of the World Cup matches to be held outside the Indian sub-continent.

‘There’s no such clause in the agreement among the four co-hosts that allows any match to be hosted at a neutral venue, so it’s not possible,’ Butt said in Islamabad after he was grilled by the National Assembly’s standing committee on sports.

The PCB chief briefed the parliamentary committee on his ongoing legal dispute with the International Cricket Council’s (ICC) over the world body’s decision to strip Pakistan of its right to host 14 World Cup matches because of security apprehensions. The PCB issued a legal notice to the ICC but has now suspended the legal battle in a bid to reach an amicable settlement.

Butt told the lawmakers that the PCB is now confident of settling the issue out of court.

“We are looking towards an out-of-court settlement with the ICC and I am hopeful that we will settle the issue some time next month,” he said.

The ICC has promised to give the PCB $10.5 million as hosting fees for 14 World Cup games even after redistributing Pakistan’s share of matches among the other co-hosts – India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.

Butt said that the PCB and ICC are inching towards a settlement after he met with the ICC president David Morgan in Dubai earlier this week.

“Four of our demands have been met while the dispute is on the other two,” Butt said, adding that he cannot give any more details.

While Butt refrained from divulging much, sources in the PCB said that the board’s top brass is pressing the ICC to give Pakistan an additional $10 million as compensation for the switching of World Cup games.

Pakistan is also pushing for an early return of international cricket here and wants the ICC and the three World Cup co-hosts especially India to provide positive support in this regard.

The future of international cricket is looking bleak in Pakistan after gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore this March. Several of the visiting players were injured in the attack that left six people, mostly policemen, dead.