27 Sep

Richard Gould the chief executive of Surrey, the club with the biggest turnover in English cricket, has warned that another year like this one (in which their income has plummeted by two thirds) would create a doomsday scenario of the county simply employing a groundsman and players “playing for beer money”.

“Our turnover will typically be larger than any other club because we rely mostly on people coming into the ground to watch the cricket or [attend] conferences and events,” Gould said in an interview with the Sunday Times.

“While the ECB’s money is very important, 90 per cent of our revenues come from other sources — and those are the ones that have been hit. We’ve done the whole sweep — redundancies, salary cuts and cuts in expenditure. We haven’t done pay cuts for the players because they are on fixed-term contracts. Our turnover this year was due to be £37 million and we will probably only do a third of that. It’s a massive drop.”

No international cricket was staged at the Kia Oval this year. Under the original schedule, Surrey’s ground was due to host the first Test against West Indies and an ODI against Ireland but, because of the need to play matches in a biosecure bubble during the Covid-19 pandemic, all England’s men’s matches were held at the Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford, grounds with on-site hotels.

Gould said: “Will we survive? Yes, we will not let the club go out of business. But if we do not get crowds next season the game will look very different. That’s the doomsday scenario of the groundsman and the players playing for beer money.”

Can the government help? “I think we are due something,” he added. “There is no doubt that we could have sustained crowds of 3,000 but we didn’t make a noise. It [government support] would be extremely welcome and would reward cricket for what it did this summer in bringing a degree of normality back to the country.”

John Stephenson


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