22 Apr

Many cricket clubs are failing to meet the ECB’s criteria for financial support according to The Cricketer. The ECB have announced that £21m will be handed out in a ‘cricket club support loan scheme, grants through the “Return to Cricket” scheme and a 12-month holiday on loan repayments for recreational clubs’. But clubs must “show evidence that it has been unable to source sufficient funding from other suitable grants or loans (e.g. Government, Sport England, commercial, member income or reserves); and “that if the Club has an annual turnover of less than £15,000, they cannot afford loan repayments (of a minimum of £83 per quarter [£333 per annum] based on a £1,000 loan repayable over three years.”

The problem lies in the fact that most cricket clubs across the country have more than a £15,000 turnover, says Dan Whiting, chairman of a North London club. He comments: “Say the average club has three Saturday XIs and 60 juniors. The average demographic of most Saturday sides would be roughly made up of 25 adults and eight juniors. An average subscription is around £100 – more in some parts of the country, less in others, along with approximately £60 for colts. An average match fee is £10 with £5 for juniors. Take in 20 games in a season and this is: annual subscription adults - £2,500; annual subscription juniors – £3,600; match fees adults – £5,000; match fee juniors – £800; total - £11,900. This is a figure without bar profits, summer cricket camps, mark up on kit for the club, social fundraising events, fireworks nights, hire of clubhouses or any of the other ad hoc streams of revenue that are crucial to the survival of most clubs. The majority of clubs across the UK will need more than £15,000 a year turnover to survive. Therefore the grant from the ECB will be available to only around 30 per cent of the clubs in the country.”

Smaller clubs are also facing problems with the ECB system. “Because for village clubs (i.e with turnover of less than £15k ) the maximum grant is £1,000,” a club chairman told Whiting. “I suggest that this small amount will mean that clubs such as ours won't bother applying (the ECB need loads of back-up info for an application) as there are better options available, e.g from local councils who are being supportive. Also I think a lot of the big ECB 'headline' figure of £60m was actually loans, which are not available to small clubs and who wouldn't want loans anyway. Those who hoped that the ECB would do more for clubs must be aware that the organisation’s cash reserves are now worth £11m and falling, down from £73m in 2015–16. The next review of the lockdown is due to be held by the government on May 7, and the ECB board say that there will be no professional cricket until May 28 at the earliest. This is viewed as a holding statement, however, and while the ECB hope they can stage matches by the start of July, almost certainly behind closed doors, the beginning of August is viewed as more likely.

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