Leicestershire CCC are seemingly at risk of going under. It was reported yesterday that the Grace Road club made a loss of £404,862 in the 2010 season, leaving them with liabilities of £233,717. Loss and debts are nothing new for counties, but this time the language is getting darker. Their auditors Thomas May & Co went as far as to say that “these conditions … indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast doubt about the club’s ability to continue as a going concern”.
Who else might soon be in trouble? Are you worried about your own county’s finances? For most of us, the economics of English domestic cricket are a complete mystery. Put simply, it works like this. The England team make all the money, around two thirds of which comes from Sky’s TV contract. Once the ECB pay their marketing and PR agency bills, and the players, they divide the surplus between the eighteen counties. This in turn is paid to their expensively-salaried overseas players – as anonymous South Africans don’t come cheap. For actual running costs, the clubs theoretically rely on gate receipts. As the Championship generate a combined revenue of around £15 a year (£7.50 for each of the two men, and the dog goes in free), they’ve become so reliant on T20 that every year another 325 fixtures are added to the tournament.
In short, too many counties are living on the never-never. It’s not only a football problem.
No-one wants to see Leicestershire go out of business, with all the trauma and redundancies that would involve. But their plight only reinforces the arguments of those who contend that we have at least four counties too many. It’s long been felt that the playing talent and supporter base are spread too thinly. And now it seems there’s not enough money to go around either.
What’s the story at your club? Are you scared? Or are you prepared to volunteer your own county as a sacricifical lamb – to be merged or declassified for the greater good? And how have they spent their cash? Have you been concerned at money apparently frittered away on expensive imports or swanky conference facilities which never get used? All views welcome.