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PSL to become an eight-team tournament from 2026

The PSL will get two new franchises from 2026, making it an eight-team league. This was officially confirmed in a media release by the PCB, who called the upcoming season in 2025 – the tenth edition – the “last six-team event”.

While this had been likely from the day the PCB and the PSL franchises agreed not to add further teams until after the tenth season, this is the first time the PCB has publicly confirmed the PSL expansion. It will be the first time in nine years that a new team enters the PSL, Multan Sultans’ entry in 2018 until now the only addition to the original five. The process for deciding which cities the new teams represent has not begun yet.

The year following the tenth season is potentially one of sizeable flux and jeopardy for the PSL, with the ten-year lease ownership agreements the PSL reached with franchise owners expiring in 2025. ESPNcricinfo understands Sultans’ lease is also up for renewal next year, despite them joining the PSL two years later than the rest. All six owners have right of first refusal, meaning ownership of a franchise only goes up for sale in the event of a current owner declining to match the franchise’s valuation.

What is more contentious, however, is when the IPL will be played from next season onwards. The Champions Trophy will be played in the traditional PSL window in February-March, and with the ILT20 and the SA20 cutting in on PSL territory, the PCB wants a more reliable window. Their current preferred solution is the move the PSL into April and May, carving out a six week window from April 7 to May 20 next year, and clashing directly with the IPL. More contentiously, the PCB aims to make this the PSL’s permanent window rather than an ad hoc solution to a crowded calendar next year.

There is by no means universal agreement for this option. Most of the PSL franchises initially opposed the idea because of the implications it would have on player availability and the inevitability of playing second fiddle to the IPL, and at least three of the six franchises remain firmly opposed to it. A PCB official, though, told ESPNcricinfo they remain confident the franchises will come around to it. It is also worth noting that franchise opposition to the idea cannot necessarily stop it happening; those decisions are made by the PSL governing council. De facto, that means the PCB could decide to play the tournament in any window, with or without the support of the franchises.

The PCB has offered to tweak player recruitment rules and open up fiscal space to allow franchises to sign one marquee player independently of the draft to alleviate concerns around player availability. With their current broadcast partnership ending in 2025, the next season could effectively become a test case for the future viability of hosting the league at the same time as the IPL. In addition, the league’s expansion to eight teams would have necessitated a larger window anyway, with the three-month window currently carved out for the IPL providing enough time for a slightly extended PSL.

However, this also necessarily means the PSL will effectively only have overseas players available to them who go unselected at the IPL, given the large financial disparity between the two leagues. This, for example, effectively rules out Rashid Khan turning out for the Lahore Qalandars – one of the franchises opposed to the window – for the foreseeable future. Qalandars opted to retain him for PSL 2024 despite knowing he would not be fit to ensure they would be able to keep the Afghanistan legspinner the following year. However, it is likely he would turn out for the IPL if the two leagues clash.

ESPNcricinfo also understands the PCB is seriously exploring the possibility of hosting the playoffs and final of PSL 2025 in the UK if this April/May window is finalised. Lahore is unseasonably hot in mid-May – temperatures are currently hovering in the mid-40s. The move to the UK, according to the PCB, does more than mitigate against the weather, though; it also globalises the reach of the PSL. The UK is also believed to be a more cost-effective option than the UAE, which has, in the past, hosted every PSL match that did not take place in Pakistan.

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