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MCI seals former test cricketer's academy.

ISLAMABAD -- The Metropolitan Corporation Islamabad (MCI) has taken over a cricket academy run by legendary test cricketer Sarfraz Nawaz, who is currently undergoing cardiac treatment at a London hospital.

The MCI sealed the offices and main doors of the academy, which was being run as a non-profit entity, on Friday. It said the academy was taken over because its contract had expired and it was being used for commercial purposes.

Located in F-7, the academy was allocated to Mr Nawaz by the Capital Development Authority's (CDA) sports directorate more than a decade ago. That directorate was devolved to the MCI after the local government was formed in 2016.

Mr Nawaz, who has been in London for the last year for medical treatment, denied the MCI's claim, saying the academy was meant for public and that there was no question of commercial activity.

'I was not served any notice. There is no question of commercial activity, as my academy has a small space where matches cannot be held. They got the chance to occupy the academy since I was out of the country,' he told Dawn over the phone from London on Sunday.

Claims academy was taken over because its contract expired and it was used for commercial purposes

He said it appeared that there was a 'mafia' operating in the Islamabad sports circle that wanted to control cricket grounds and academies to run them for its own interests.

He said that his staff had been operating the academy in his absence, adding that he has invested millions of rupees to provide young cricketers training opportunities. He said he has sent his staff cheques from London to meet the expenses of the academy, proof of which is available with his bank.

Mr Nawaz appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to look into why his academy had been made a target.

Mian Babar Qayoom, who was running the academy on Mr Nawaz' behalf, said that he spent millions of rupees to establish the academy. He said Mr Nawaz had been paying the academy's utility bills and other expenses out of his own pocket when the MCI suddenly sealed the building.

Mr Qayoom and other staffers said there was no question that the academy was being used on a commercial basis, and asked the MCI to bring forward any evidence to this effect.

Many cricket grounds belonging to the MCI are being run by private individuals but the MCI has been reluctant to take back control of them.

The academy is well maintained, with lush green grass and three practice nets and other equipment. There is an MCI football ground adjacent to the academy that appears overgrown and abandoned.

MCI Sports Officer Chaudhry Shahzad told Dawn the MCI has decided to take control of all public grounds and academies that are being run by individuals.

He said there were reports that the academy was being operated for commercial purposes while its contract had already expired several years ago.

When asked, he said notices were also served.

'We completed all legal formalities before sealing the academy,' Mr Shahzad said, adding that: 'Although we served notices, the contract clearly mentioned that the authority can take over its grounds and academies even without serving notices.'

He said public grounds and academies built on state land are meant for the public and no one can charge fees for their use.

A staffer of Mr Nawaz' said that if the MCI is serious about taking control of all grounds and academies it should have taken over grounds before moving towards the academy of a legendary test cricket who had served Pakistan for decades.

'Suppose there was any issue between MCI and academy staffers, the MCI should at least wait for the test cricketer's return to the country. This action is an insult to the stalwart. We know no action will be taken against others; right in front of the mayor's house there is the Shalimar Cricket Ground on Margalla Road, which is being run by private person.. Similarly, many other grounds are in the possession of private people and associations, but Sarfraz Nawaz' academy was singled out,' he said.
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Publication:Dawn (Karachi, Pakistan)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Aug 26, 2019
Words:778
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