Empty Seats and Dwindling Interest: Examining the Reasons for Low Turnouts in PSL Season 8

Experts have highlighted the shortcomings in the PSL and the issues in the policies of the PCB since 2016. Now we have PSL Season 8 but PCB still spends almost nothing on the marketing and branding of the Pakistan Super League. In its second season, it lost its viewership as teams played in the empty stadiums of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. In its eighth edition, the tournament is being played in empty Stadiums across the Country.

Strict Security and no Branding

While IPL was attracting UAE, viewers, even recently, PCB was rather inspired to bring PSL home where it belonged to. No doubt it does, but it shouldn’t have been an excuse for low turnouts in UAE. Now when PSL still doesn’t fill up the empty stands, PCB again has many things to use as an excuse. 

The reason for low turnouts in UAE was primarily because of the area and secondarily for the lack of marketing. If IPL was a brand outside India; in UAE and South Africa, it was because of its international image. 

PSL happens behind closed doors and under strict security measures. Given the way the security situation turned up this year, it looks as if we might not be able to compete with other leagues and boards even after another 5 years. Under circumstances like ours, one just thanks God for another safe day in the stadium and the city.

One practical example of this dilemma was observed recently on Feb 5 in Quetta where PCB arranged an exhibition match between Quetta Gladiators and Peshawar Zalmi before the start of PSL Season 8. After one hour of play, the game was stopped and didn’t start again even after almost an hour. There was no news or update from the PCB or the two concerned franchises and the internet broke out with rumours of a blast in the Bugti Stadium. Later on, it was learnt that some locals had begun to throw stones in the stadium while there was a blast also – in a highly secure area of Quetta near the Police headquarters and entrance of Quetta Cantonment.

Poor Fan Experience in PSL Season 8

In Pakistan currently, it takes you almost 2 hours to enter the stadium after passing all the security measures and protocols. Citizens pay for the match but what they get is the unacceptable behaviour of security personnel and staff who fear a terrorist in every person visiting the stadium. Handsfree and umbrellas would be taken and thrown, WhatsApp and SMS from smartphones would be checked out and the police officer may even abuse you if you resist or argue. Not exaggerating, it happens in Pakistan even today.   

When fans reach their destination in the stadium, they find themselves almost 50-80 meters away from the ropes and would hardly identify the players whose action and play is what they have desired to watch and pay for. Experience in stadiums is poor, but the rates and quality of food available in the stadiums are even more shocking. 

PCB has put a totally blind eye to bringing some brands and trustworthy locals into the stadium. Markets and Food Streets around the stadium are closed, metro buses don’t take you anywhere near the stadium and the state makes sure everyone walks for at least 4 km before entering the stadium. Respect is the last thing a Pakistani fan can expect in this country.

Expensive Tickets and no Conveniences

Already there is record inflation in Pakistan. 100% increase in fuel, oil, wheat and daily-use commodities has deteriorated the public lifestyle and mood. PCB didn’t help improve this situation. PCB increased the rates of PSL Season 8 tickets and passes by almost 150% and a family trip to the National or Gaddafi stadium is nothing less than a trip to the Northern Areas of Pakistan. But what fans get is just disarray and disorganization.

“I’m writing this post to show how pathetic and unprofessional the PCB management acted today. I got a VVIP ticket of 12k which is the glass box on the top. However, they made us sit on the normal VIP seats which were 2900 rupees. We just got the complimentary snacks. I asked a few PCB management team members about it and they said we were late and they already filled the VVIP seats with other people who didn’t even pay for it. It was not only us, there were a bunch of people who paid 12k and got the same enclosure. Very unfair to pay this much amount and get this kind of treatment.”


Copy from Voice of Customer Group means what we are getting in the label of VIP even in this enclosure view is totally disturbed with these janglaws as if people are in a zoo. Such a pathetic system of our stadiums.” A fan who watched Multan vs Quetta game in Multan Stadium wrote on social media. 

Poor Stadiums and no Maintenance Work

PCB hasn’t been able to look after or improve the stadiums as well. The public of Islamabad and Rawalpindi always fills the Pindi Stadium but still, it has neither a roof nor seats. Other stadiums have both, but the seats are either old and broken or untidy and in poor shape. Now institutions of Pakistan seem to have failed so miserably that no construction or development would ever take place.


Stadiums have the capacity to place more seats in the long useless gaps between the ropes and seats. Big screens disturb the view and not everyone in the stadium is able to watch the action through them. These can be appropriately placed. Security should be tight but it should be arranged in a way that it won’t disturb public lives and match the experience. 

Otherwise, with this much increase in ticket prices and soaring inflation and underdevelopment, the Pakistani middle class is not going to visit stadiums and stands would remain empty in PSL Season 8. An expensive ticket is an invitation to rich people who are not interested in Asian-dominated games like cricket and kabaddi. It’s the Pakistani middle class that can chant the slogans and fight over Babar vs Amir rivalries. Pakistani rich better apply for an American visa and spend at Tim Hortons to contribute to the making of a better historical event.   

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