The inaugural T20x Emirates League has been canceled, after the tournament did not sell franchises within the stipulated time. The tournament was scheduled for next month with Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi as the venue.
The league, a joint venture between the Emirates Cricket Board (BCE) and the OPi group, obtained ICC approval for the next 10 years subject to an annual appraisal. It was to present five franchises: the organizers had not revealed their names, but it is believed that they were intended to represent five Emirates of the United Arab Emirates.
"Following the talks between the Emirates Cricket Board (BCE) and the promoter of the OPi event, it was mutually agreed that the planned EAU T20x franchise cricket league will not take place in the UAE next December / January" , the ECB said in a statement. "The decision follows the completion of the Invitation to Bid (ITT) process for the tournament franchises.
" Both the ECB and OPi expected to achieve the sale of five franchise teams during the first year of the tournament, and during the Negotiations "was completed in two franchise teams and another three were very advanced, it was considered that there was no longer enough time to close the sales process and deliver and successfully promote a December event."
During the annual ICC conference in July, in Dublin, the executive directors committee (CEC) and the ICC Board discussed, and reportedly reached a consensus on limiting player participation to no more than three T20 leagues per year. According to the ECB statement, this had also affected the ability of the league to attract commercial associations.
"OPi, a privately owned sports promoter, and the ECB had been working together since 2017 to develop the new franchise league, and attracted Inte rest and the support of many of the world's best players and coaches," says the statement. "The ICC decision in July to explore the potential limitations in the T20 cricket leagues and the players' participation in them, meant that the investment in the U20 UAE had to be reduced throughout the summer in anticipation of a decision. In turn, it impacted times in commercial conversations with potential buyers of franchises. "
As such, the tournament was competing against time. It was supposed to start on December 19, with a draft player scheduled for November 18. The organizers had not signed an agreement with a station either.
Despite all this, the league had already announced five icon players: Eoin Morgan, David Miller, Andre Russell, Shahid Afridi and Kumar Sangakkara – with AB de Villiers also involved as a non-player ambassador.
It was assumed that the first season would have 22 games played for 24 days. Each of the five franchises would comprise 16 players: six international players and two emerging players from full member countries, three from partner countries, two young players from the local local organization and three national cricketers from the United Arab Emirates.
The company was led by former PCB president Nasim Ashraf, who, during his tenure on the Pakistan board, started the idea of launching a T20 league within Pakistan. However, the idea never materialized under Ashraf.
The operations of the T20x league were the responsibility of Salman Sarwar Butt, another Pakistani who was one of the driving forces behind the Pakistan Super League in 2016. He later separated from the PSL after the PCB was unable to renew his contract.