Windies legend Darren Sammy hopeful of PSL glory with Peshawar Zalmi

Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy believes the quality of the upcoming Pakistan Super League will be higher than previous editions with very little between the six sides competing in the UAE and Pakistan. (AFP)
Updated 12 February 2019

Windies legend Darren Sammy hopeful of PSL glory with Peshawar Zalmi

LONDON: Peshawar Zalmi captain Darren Sammy believes the quality of the upcoming Pakistan Super League will be higher than previous editions with very little between the six sides competing in the UAE and Pakistan this year.
Peshawar, the 2017 champions, have bolstered their ranks and, despite fears they will struggle, Sammy is confident the depth of his squad will be enough to wrest back the trophy from Islamabad United.
“All six teams are very balanced and that is good because we will get to see quality cricket in HBL PSL once again,” he said.
“I have had the great honor of leading a very talented Peshawar Zalmi side for two years and, this year, we have greater depth in the squad and the experience that guys like Misbah (ul-Huq) and (Kieron) Pollard bring to our squad is invaluable.
“We always get great support from our Zalmi fans in the UAE but we are all very excited to experience the love and warmth of crowds in Karachi once again. We are Zalmis and our goal is always to win.”
Captain of the defending champions Islamabad, Mohammad Sami thinks he has enough to keep the title in the Pakistani capital.
“I have looked at the squad and there are so many options for us. The young guys have impressed everyone in our training sessions and we are carrying on our tradition of developing the emerging talent of Pakistan. I hope I can lead this group to another trophy.
“We are all working really hard but in the end, we just want to keep things simple, play good cricket and if we do that then the results will come on their own.”
One of the main challengers to Islamabad’s crown are the Karachi Kings, and their captain Imad Wasim is proud of the mix of Pakistani and International talent.
“The squad has a balanced core of local players and some excellent foreign players. We are keen to do well this year and get our hands on the trophy.
“It will be a dream come true for all of us to lift the trophy in front of our home crowd on 17 March and we are going to do everything in our control to win it.”
Sarfraz Ahmed, who was confirmed as Pakistan’s captain for the summer’s World Cup in England — despite serving a ban for racism — is hoping his Quetta Gladiators can go one better having come close to sealing the PSL title in recent seasons.
“We have come close in the past three years, but we have not been able to get the desired results. The entire Quetta Gladiators squad is determined to change that this time around.
“We focused on our retention list this year since we wanted consistency in developing our squad. It helps that we have senior pros like Shane Watson and Rilee Rossouw returning and they will help the young boys ease into the tournament.
“I am particularly excited about our young pace bowling talent and I can’t wait to see Ghulam Mudassar and Mohammad Hasnain in action whenever they get a chance.”
The PSL’s early stages take place in the UAE — at Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi — before moving over to Karachi and Lahore for the playoffs.


Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

Updated 09 July 2020

Milan turn to Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Liverpool to revive glory

ROME: Preparing to complete a ninth Serie A campaign without winning the Scudetto, AC Milan decided returning to the pinnacle of football required a new approach.

Jay-Z’s entertainment agency Roc Nation is at the center of it, linking up with Milan to scour the world for sponsors and use concerts and other high-profile events to attract new fans.

And who better to ask about how to end a title drought than the team that just won their league for the first time in 30 years?

“We have been talking to Liverpool,” Milan chief revenue officer Casper Stylsvig told The Associated Press, “because they’ve been through the same path as we are going through now.”

Milan are enduring their longest Serie A drought since the 1980s. Despite beating leader Juventus on Tuesday, even the top four Champions League places are out of reach in this pandemic-delayed season. It’s been seven years since Milan last competed in Europe’s elite competition.

“We’re working very hard to get back to where we should be, and from that perspective, it does help open doors when you have won seven Champions Leagues,” Stylsvig said. 

“Playing European football is top of the agenda. It is our natural habitat and somewhere we should be.”

Only Real Madrid has lifted the European Cup more often than Milan. But that seventh title was won 13 years ago, by beating Liverpool.

Now Liverpool are the lodestar for Milan, which have fallen to 21st in the Deloitte ranking of football’s moneymakers with revenue of €206.3 million  ($234 million) in the last financial year, a third of the income at the newly crowned Premier League champions.

“Four, five years ago, no one considered Liverpool and see where they are now,” Stylsvig said. “They obviously play very attractive football. They are winning, they have a fantastic manager, a fantastic team and now they are following suit from a commercial perspective. It has taken time, but their model seems to work.”

Liverpool have been run for a decade by John Henry’s Fenway Sports Group. Milan have also had American ownership for three years since the takeover by the Elliott Management hedge fund.

“We are obviously a global brand,” Stylsvig said in a telephone interview. “I’ve probably been talking too much in the Italian market in the last few years and (the coronavirus) sort of pushed us to think more global again.”

The pandemic that shut down sports produced the first public manifestation of the partnership with Roc Nation when Milan staged a live virtual fundraising concert headlined by Alicia Keys.

“I do think merging sport and entertainment could be the way of engaging new fans,” Stylsvig said. “The world has changed dramatically and we need to follow suit. Roc Nation is helping us, challenging us with that, having someone on the sideline to do that.”

The biggest audiences logging in to watch “From Milan with Love” were from China and the US.

With no games being played during the three-month Serie A shutdown — and crowds still prohibited from matches — Milan have had to find new ways of connecting with its fan base and fulfilling commercial deals.

“It’s been incredibly challenging,” Stylsvig said. “You basically have to rethink the model. So one of the first things we did was focusing much more on a digital space, creating content and trying to be engaging and trying to talk to our partners.”

Further down the line is moving into a new stadium, with plans to rebuild the San Siro it shares with Inter Milan.

“That will change the club,” Stylsvig said. “The revenues are incredibly important but also for the perception of the club.”