Are the refunds being offered to county members enough?

Doug M recently contacted TFT about membership refunds for the ‘lost’ 2020 season. He doesn’t think the counties are playing fair. Do you agree? What has your county offered you? Doug sets out his case below. Let us know what you think in the comments …

This is my first go at writing a piece for The Full Toss so trust you will all bear with me.

Most of you will be members of county clubs I suspect, so you will probably be aware that there is a bit of an issue arising about membership refunds for this rather truncated season (or at least there is at some clubs).

I am a member of a 1st division club, which I won’t name here, although many of you will likely know which one I’m talking about. I would be interested as to whether a similar situation is going on at your county.

My club have offered a derisory 25% refund on all categories of membership – which range from championship / one day cup only games to all encompassing memberships that includes a guaranteed seat at international fixtures.

Fees range from around £150 to £350 for these memberships depending on the category. You still have to buy tickets at ground entry on top of this which could be anything from £60 to £100 for England games. In addition there are some vouchers which you can use to purchase food at the ground.

Well the backlash from many of the 1000’s of members has been pretty strong to say the least. Overall the view is that whatever the club rules or general law may say on this issue, it’s a shameful way to treat loyal members, many of whom have been members for over 50 years. I’ve been a member myself for about 23 years.

Many have already cancelled next year’s membership because they are so incensed. Many have also written to the club to express their anger but I doubt it will change the club’s mind.

Although many been happy to simply donate their membership fee and not seek any refund – and I’d do this myself if I was a member of a struggling club – my club is not struggling financially.

One argument from those in favour of this “offer” is that membership is about more than just the games. It also includes voting rights, attendance at meetings, mailings and the club Yearbook. However, this is probably worth about £30 a year. I’m not particularly worried about the money myself but many will no doubt be glad of it in the current circumstances.

I can’t speak for all clubs, of course. However, I do know that two 2nd division clubs have offered a full refund or free membership for next season. In contrast one 1st division club has offered nothing at all.

One wonders what will happen next season if the virus is still around. Who is going to fork out for another year?

A simple analogy: if you pay for something from an online retailer and it turns out that they can’t supply it, would you accept a meagre 25% refund? Obviously not. I see no difference here. You have bought entry to X amount of games of cricket so that’s what you should receive.

Basically I think the whole situation stinks. I’d be interested to hear your views – no matter how critical.

Thanks for listening.

Doug M


  • Couldn’t agree more. Think I’ve written to the same club as you and been brushed off. Won’t be renewing next years membership to be treated the same way if Covid19 continues

  • I am a member of Middlesex and to date not quite sure what they have offered but I recognise Counties are struggling and I am happy for the club to keep my membership and pay next year. Supporting County Cricket is for me the main purpose of my membership not saving monies.

  • It would seem we are members of the same club and i have written to them too. What upsets me is that they can offered to give refunds, after all they made records profits last year, but the complete disdain for members. It is this don’t care attitude as if they are above everything because they are so big. They have not even offered to take individual circumstances into account.
    Like you said, if you paid for something and only got 25% of that, what would you do?

    Wondered what we can do collectively?

  • Think of it as subsidising your county, then it’s not so bad.
    Without the ability to attract gate receipts, limited media attention and advertising this season revenue is limited. If your money was going into fat cat pockets then it would be different, but it’s more like a donation. If you can afford membership fees in the first place it’s not going to break you.
    These are exceptional circumstances and can’t be seen in the same light as profiteering. Bills are not being waved for county overheads. To me it’s a minor issue and entirely understandable. Maybe the public relations side is a bit naff but then that’s cricket administrators for you.

    • Complete nonsense – this is taking money for a service not provided. Those who wish to make donations can do so.

      • If you’re a season ticket holder then I assume you’re a big fan of the game, so why would you begrudge being a subsidiser of the game you love that is clearly in financial difficulties. I don’t think you can put this in the same category as a random service not provided.

  • Agree it is a disgrace and it comes down to communication and what can you offer. Any club should look at their members and depending on their financial situation look at how it can reward those members that donate their membership or incentivise them to part refunds whether it is free food or drink next season, discount on merchandise or why not be innovative and offer free Zoom interviews with players and the like.

    Engage and reward rather than take for granted

    • I am under the impression that clubs are looking into ways of rewarding such philanthropic gestures.
      Anyone who truly loves the game should not resent the principle, however the rather high handed way it has been applied is in many ways typical of cricket’s somewhat arrogant administration.
      I know it’s on a different level, but you don’t get a refund for weather interruptions at county games if you’re a season ticket holder, it’s an occupational hazard of being a cricket supporter. Equally the reason clubs have been unable to provide a service is not their fault. Why should they be asked to foot the bill in this way for the consequences of a governmental decision that’s out of their hands.

  • I’ve never been a county member – I live equi-distant between two counties and in a normal season would go to both equally. The whole concept of membership has always seemed a bit odd to me.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to watching an attractive-looking BWT Final on TV. Oh….

  • My club has not refunded anyone (except any who specifically requested a refund due to hardship – this option was made clear to members); they made the decision due to simply not being able to refund all members – the cost and reasons were explained to all members. Members will get a discount (25%) next season.

    Personally I was prepared to allow my membership to be a donation; the way I see it I have not lost any money, just the cricket I would have watched. If anything I have actually saved money (transport, food, scorecards etc). But what about next season? I normally renew early, about when the fixtures are published. I can’t see myself renewing before next Spring, and I suspect I won’t be alone in this. That will have a negative effect on the club’s cash flow and finances in the early season.

  • Reading this makes me happy that Durham have certainly done the right thing. They offered either A/ a full refund or B/ become a ”Durham Defender” (relinquish money for 20% off next year’s membership, with a few perks thrown in). Durham’s membership fee is generally around the £200 incidentally.

    • Forgot to say, my initial thoughts on this when Corona first struck was, that the counties would offer full refunds and that they wouldn’t have a legal case if they did otherwise. After all, If you buy a ticket for a concert and the performance doesn’t occur, you will get a refund.

      • Yes Sean, but they see membership also as contributing to the growth of youth cricket, attending at meetings, voting rights, receiving the annual Year Book, maintenance of the ground, and no doubt the cost of buying new players. The indications alsoare that because some staff have been made redundant unfortunately, loss of income from Internationals (although they are insured for most of this) and in my club’s case big income from corporate events and catering the club is “struggling”. Well many business’s are struggling, but they don’t ask their customers to donate to help them out as far as I can see. All the members I know largely pay their subscription for the cricket, otherwise you would get an Affiliation at a 10th of the price. Short of one reduced T20 and a Friendly (free anyway) we haven’t had any. OK Covid is not the Club’s fault, but it’s not the Member’s either. It’s not the money with me, it’s the principle, and if I’m going to donate it’ll be to a Charity and not a, well ok, pretty rich club. And now I’ve probably given it away, but probably guessed!

      • I think my county answered this by saying that membership of a club isn’t the same as buying a ticket (season or otherwise) for an event.

      • Actually this is not correct, I was due to go to a concert in Leeds in May which was moved to a Different date, the options were go on the new date ( which wasn’t convenient) or sell
        The ticket on at a vastly reduced price on their website , but I would not receive that money until the concert actually took place , which is now next May !!

  • MCC have offered nothing – and, contrary to popular opinion, we Members are not all rolling in money.

  • Interesting – I’m lucky I always renew a few days before the start of the season so I didn’t renew for the 1st time in about 35 years this years
    Counties, certainly my county have started to treat memberships more like football season tickets. There was a time when being a member got you in to see all the county cricket your county played at home. Now they have 11 day memberships, full memberships, T20 memberships, one day memberships. My county also offer membership with no games attached. If that was £30 then if i have paid £250 for my full membership I would expect a £250 – £30 refund as the £220 is for attending matches

    My football club offered me a pro rata refund of matches missed on my season ticket and will continue to do so for as long as matches are behind closed doors

  • My county has written to Members with 2 options.
    1. Donate your membership fee.
    2. Claim a full refund.

    1 is the default option, you need to apply for the refund. I am in a position to donate but many eill not be. Those who donate will have a membership with a few extras.

  • Someone I know made a good point that these are the same counties, sans Surrey, who voted for the hundred against their memberships’ wishes!

  • I am a member at Surrey after the announcement yesterday I’m sure even more people will now be cancelling their DD for next season not wanting to risk losing even more money after the shambolic way members have been treated over the 25% refund for this season.
    I have decided to take the refund of £37 so I will be giving Surrey against my will £111
    My wife will be losing the same amount.
    I will be cancelling my DD and not having membership next season like many others.
    One of the main problems members have got over Surrey s decision is that the general committee decided this decision who were elected by the members.
    But we weren’t consulted before this decision was made.The committee even had the privilege of going to a few of the Bob Willis trophy games. When I bought my membership it was to watch cricket not to go to forums, AGM .Pilot matches these are a few of the reasons Surrey arnt giving a higher refund. It will be interesting to see how much the membership has dropped going into next season.

  • Hampshire have decided to roll over all memberships for next year. Maybe the message is beginning to get through. Unfortunately with silly Boris’s announcement no spectators sport until end of next March, the roll over might go on and on…..

  • I support Surrey – the richest county in the country by a country mile. At the start of this season, they appeared to be behaving honourably: refusing to furlough their players on the basis that (unlike all other counties except Lancashire) they could well afford to continue to pay their wages.

    When it became apparent that members were going to see much less cricket, Surrey announced that they would wait until the end of the season before deciding on refunds. Again, fair enough. No-one could fault them for not trying to get spectators in to The Oval, but apart from a two-day friendly (for which no-one would have paid in any other season) and a single T20 match against Hampshire, it just wasn’t possible.

    I, and many other long-standing Surrey members, were staggered that in the light of this the Club decided to refund just 25% of the membership fee for the season. A number of other counties have concluded that the only honourable decision was to offer to refund the entire year’s membership fees. Derb yshire – who don’t have the proverbial pot to plant in – have already let their members know that they have processed the refund in full.

    I would personally have accepted even a 50% refund from Surrey as just about fair, if not generous. If they had offered me the full refund I would probably have donated a portion of it. As it is, they have sown resentment and ill-will among large sections of their membership. They have worked incredibly hard in recent years to swell numbers, and at the start of the season were rightly proud to boast 13,500 , bucking the trend across counties where membership has been in decline. It will be interesting to see how many decide not to renew unless the Club either review their decision in respect of this year or show that they have learned their lesson in time for the 2021 season, where there is frankly no guarantee that we will get to see any more cricket.

    I have suggested the Club might offer a new category of membership which they could call “Cheer From the Chair”. For, say, £60, you would get all of the privileges of membership except the right to actually go to the matches. If it does prove possible for spectators to go, then it is virtually certain that the numbers would need to be extremely restricted to comply with social distancing etc. In that case, people still choosing to pay full membership rates would of course get first priority, with “Cheer From the Chair” level members getting priority above the general public, but having to pay the daily ground admission rate each time. At the end of the season, any refund given to full members would then represent a discretionary payment (even 25% would then seem fair enough).

    I wait with baited breath to see Surrey’s response to my proposal. If they do nothing, I think they will come to regret their decision. It will cost them members, and therefore it will cost them money.

  • Someone’s leaked to the DM the “shocking” figures on ethnic representation of county players. Apparently, a mere 33 (interesting number!) of players on county staffs are so-called BAME and this is such a terrible failure that the ECB are going to start denying money to counties that aren’t doing their bit.

    What their reporting doesn’t mention is the percentage figures (you know, like they keep quoting Covid “cases” but not deaths, hospitalisations or recovery rates to give the impresssion there’s a pandemic when there isn’t – lies, damned lies and statistics and all that). I make the percentage of BAME players on county staffs (and my maths isn’t the greatest so I’d happily stand correction) as about 8.5% when the figure is about 11% for the population as a whole.

    Now, I’m not arguing that’s not something of an under-representation because it obviously is and I’m not arguing there isn’t some conscious and unconscious racism out there. However it hardly justifies the shrieking headlines and punitive response. Where’s the same outrage about working class or state school representation?

    Why do the ECB and their mouthpieces like the DM concentrate on one and not the other? This isn’t some temporary oversight or momentary shift of focus because it’s been going on for decades.

    • Daily Mail in overly-emotional article shock!!

      It seems to me that in your rush to be outraged, you (and indeed the article itself) have failed to read the relevant quotation from the ECB very carefully. It doesn’t say that they’re GOING to deny money-the article itself says that “under the terms of the new County Partnership Agreement, the ECB RESRVE THE RIGHT to withhold a portion of the counties’ annual funding, which ranges from £3.6million to £3.8m, if they do not hit diversity targets, which have been set to ensure each county staff reflects the club’s community and local demographics”.

      That’s a lot more subtle than the SHOCK! HORROR! OUTRAGE! that you’re seeing. It suggests first that it will address the concern you’re raising too (class and schooling are parts of “the club’s local demographics”). In fact if they apply much intelligence to it (I know, that’s asking a lot from the ECB!) I suspect they’ll find that some of the answers are the same to both issues–as the accompanying interview with Devon Malcolm implies.

      Second, it suggests that it won’t be the same for every county. It really is a disgrace that, say, Leicestershire, a club from a small county centred on a majority-Asian city, only has one Asian player, that Yorkshire have only one, or that the club based in multi-racial Birmingham don’t have any–especially when Asian players are comparatively numerous in recreational cricket. That would seem to me to be much more of a concern than that Somerset’s only BAME player is South African, simply because the population of Somerset (using the 2011 census, which seem to be the figures you’ve used) is only 2% BAME, of which the largest constituent parts are Filipino and Chinese, not traditionally cricket-loving hubs.

      Of course it’s always possible that the policy will be applied as a blunt instrument. But it could equally simply be a rather tighter and more demographically-targeted (or worded) version of the current policy which already links funding to community involvement–which is probably one of the biggest issues here. And it’s not beyond the bounds of possibility, even with the level of intelligence we usually see from the ECB, that someone might see that the racial composition of Taunton is not exactly that of Leicester, Birmingham, London, Bradford or Nottingham.

    • Just to answer your question “why are they focussing on one and not the other?” Presumably one reason is that there has been a lot of anecdotal evidence coming out from recently-ex or current players that there is both a lack of cultural understanding and direct hatred coming from white hierarchies and some fans in counties towards BAME players, which constitute an extra barrier. I haven’t heard similar evidence of that with class or education–at least not in the last half-century or so.

  • Sorry to hear about the death of Dean Jones.

    It’s incredible how strong Australia’s batting options were in the early 1990s that they could jettison him after only 50 or so Tests (apparently his “crime” was making big scores too oftn in dead rubbers or otherwise unimportant games).

    People are always talking about how unlucky Ramprakash or Hick were with selection – it’s nothing compared to what happened to Jones.

  • Had email from Surrey today regarding paying membership refunds telling me they will be using Ticket Master to pay the refunds even though Surrey have my bank details .This is quite unbelievable I wonder how much they are paying ticket master to pay our refunds. I wonder if this is something else the general committee have agreed to. Can it really get any worse from Surrey

  • Decided to get a full refund from Surrey Cricket club by going through the small claims court.Got a not so nice letter from Surrey.CCC saying if I went down this legal route I would no longer be able to obtain membership of the club in the future.Went ahead with my claim and now received the full membership plus costs over £25.00 that Surrey have had to pay.They should have given full refunds in the first place.They have upset a lot of members who will not be there next season.Once was a loyal Surrey supporter but not any more.

    • Surrey have just agreed to refund me the other 75% after I said I would take them to the small claims court. Like you, I have been told that my future membership would not be welcomed.


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