Ireland open to Pakistan tour if 'stars align'

In this file photo, Ireland team celebrate after taking the wicket of Pakistan's Shadab Khan. (REUTERS)
Updated 16 May 2018
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Ireland open to Pakistan tour if 'stars align'

  • The Pakistan Cricket Board hope to be able to host a full series by 2020

Ireland are open to touring Pakistan if "all the stars align," the chief executive of men's Test cricket's newest nation has said.
The Irish made their Test debut with a highly creditable five-wicket loss to Pakistan at Malahide Cricket Club, Dublin concluded Tuesday.
After being made to follow-on, Ireland reduced Pakistan to 14 for three to give themselves hope of a remarkable win before their visitors managed to chase down a modest victory target of 160.

The match further strengthened the cricket bonds between Ireland and Pakistan, which date back to when the non-Test nation knocked the subcontinental giants out of the 2007 World Cup with a stunning win in Jamaica.

Pakistan became a no-go area for leading cricket teams after an attack by armed militants on Sri Lanka's team bus in Lahore in 2009, with the United Arab Emirates becoming the team's unofficial home.

Zimbabwe became the first major international team to return to Pakistan in 2015, while April saw World Twenty20 champions West Indies visit for a three-match T20 series.

Ireland were due to tour Pakistan in 2014 only for the trip to be cancelled after militants attacked Karachi airport.

The Pakistan Cricket Board hope to be able to host a full series by 2020 and Cricket Ireland chief executive Warren Deutrom said Tuesday that his organisation remained "very amenable" to touring Pakistan.

"We haven't received an official invitation," Deutrom told AFP at Malahide following the end of the Test match.

"The chairman of the Pakistan Board was here. I haven't had a complete debrief with our chairman yet to see whether or not those conversations took place but I wouldn't even say those conversations even started here.

"For months, years, we've actually said to Pakistan, when you think it's right, safe to invite us, when you want to, economically or commercially, we are very amenable to an invitation," he added.

"When you send an invitation we presume it's because you perceive it to be safe enough for us to receive the invitation and then when you give us all the security arrangements around that we will look at that seriously, share them with our players, government, insurers and if all the stars align, we'd be happy to come."


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 22 May 2018
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs
  • Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million)

RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.