22 Aug

The Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) is anticipating a membership revenue shortfall of more than $16 million (£8.8m) as the body, responsible for managing the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG), deals with the twin battles of reduced membership income and an empty ground during the coronavirus pandemic.

As the Australian Football League (AFL) and state authorities thrash out a decision about where the grand final should be played if it has to be moved from the MCG, as seems inevitable, the MCC is grappling with uncertainty about which events, burdened by ongoing crowd constraints, can be held at the iconic venue.

The MCC has already introduced an automatic 30 per cent reduction in fees to its 140,000+ members. They can also apply for a greater discount by demonstrating financial hardship, such as unemployment. 40 per cent of the club’s revenue comes from membership, with the balance made up from games and other events such as concerts.

"Our revenue model is dramatically compromised as a result of the crisis and the revenue from managing the ground will not return in any significant form until crowds at games can return," MCC president Michael Happell wrote to members this year.

The MCC membership year runs from September 1, with about 10,000 new provisional members set to be added this year, bringing the overall tally to more than 140,000. Current members have already had access to the 2019 AFL finals and the summer cricket season, which is why the reductions will apply to the new membership year rather than the current one.

"The last month of this financial year was greatly impacted by COVID-19, with limitations on gatherings necessitating dramatic shifts to our operations with no crowds allowed to attend events and, in some cases, temporary closure of our facilities such as the Australian Sports Museum, MCG Tours and the MCC Library," said Happell in the club's annual report.

"As we proceed into an unusual year filled with much uncertainty, I am comforted by the knowledge that this great club to which we all belong has existed for more than 182 years.

"We have endured and emerged from significant world events and past shifts in the state of affairs and will do so again thanks to the drive and passion which unite us – the members of the Melbourne Cricket Club."

The MCC members' waiting list is more than 20 years long and this year had 214,000 people on it.

John Stephenson


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