The Pakistan Cricket Board has signed a three-year contract worth US$9 million with Dubai Sports City, which will serve as the home venue for Pakistan's future cricketing commitments after touring teams raised security concerns over travelling to Pakistan.
"Under the recently-signed contract, the Pakistan team will play different events at the offshore venue for three years after the completion of Dubai Cricket Stadium next year ,"
said Shafqat Nagmi, the PCB's chief operating officer, while announcing the deal at a news conference.
Naghmi said the stadium is likely to be completed in February 2009 and will host a tri-series involving Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh in April. For the next two years, the team will be participating in Twenty20 events.
According to a senior PCB official, Pakistan will play four Twenty20 matches in that period with the board expected to rake in US$3 million per match for the three-year assignment. The PCB has already suffered heavy financial losses this year with the postponement of the Champions Trophy and Australia's refusal to tour Pakistan for a Test series earlier in March-April this year.
Ehsan Mani, the former ICC president, however was opposed to the idea of shifting matches away from Pakistan.
"By offshore series Pakistan can perhaps get the TV rights money but there will be no crowds and sponsorships,"
Mani told the Voice of America.
"If there was no cricket played in Pakistan, it will be loss to cricket, loss of Pakistan cricket in the longer run."
Concerns also loomed over the lack of international cricket being played, with only a quadrangular tournament in Toronto involving hosts Canada, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe scheduled for October, ahead of the home series against India in January 2009.
"It is a lucrative contract which will help in overcoming the loss after postponement of Champions Trophy,"
"Through this deal we will be generating enough funds besides having a definite programme of our team's participation in international cricket".
He signed the contract subject to the approval of the incoming chairman of the PCB, the position which remains vacant following the resignation of Nasim Ashraf.