English cricket could lose £380m in worst-case scenario if summer is wiped out

England’s were due to play against West Indies, Australia, Pakistan and Ireland in coming months

English cricket could lose up to  £380 million  if no matches are played this summer. Photograph: Alessandro Abbonizio/AFP via Getty Images

English cricket could lose up to £380 million if no matches are played this summer. Photograph: Alessandro Abbonizio/AFP via Getty Images

 

English cricket is braced for losses of up to £380 million (€435 million) if no matches are played this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Tom Harrison, chief executive of the England and Wales Cricket Board.

The cricket season was due to begin on April 2nd, but no matches will be played now until the start of July at the earliest.“We anticipate the cost of no cricket this year could be as bad as 380 million pounds. That is the worst-case scenario for us,” Harrison told the UK government’s digital, culture, media and sport committee about the impact of coronavirus.

“That would be the loss of 800 days of cricket across all of our professional clubs and the ECB. It is the most significant financial challenge we have ever faced.”

The sport’s new competition, The Hundred, which Harrison described as a “profit centre” for cricket that was expected to add £11 million (€12.6 million) of revenue to the game in its first year, has been postponed until next year.

A three-match Test Series with the West Indies originally scheduled for June has been postponed until later in the summer. England are due to play a series of T20 and one-day internationals against Australia in July, a Test series against Pakistan in July and August and three ODIs against Ireland in September.

Harrison was still hopeful some Test matches would take place without spectators, which would still incur a loss of around £100 million (€115 million). But he said such matches were subject to serious logistical difficulties while the coronavirus continues to be a global threat.

“The complexities of lockdown in those nations means there’s a huge amount of complexity to bring teams over, follow government guidelines and get players ready,” he added.

“But with a following wind, hopefully will be able to play a significant number of Test matches this summer which will help us mitigate those financial losses that we are facing at the moment.”

However, Harrison still expects The Hundred to be a success when it is launched next year. “In terms of the position we put ourselves in for The Hundred, right at the moment Covid-19 struck, we were in a very, very strong place,” he said. “The game had never sold that number of tickets at that speed before, with the exception of the Cricket World Cup.

“So we were in a very strong position to achieve exactly what we set out to achieve in terms of growing the audience for cricket in this country. The profile of ticket buyers was extremely encouraging. Young adults and parents coming with their children. Doing exactly the job we wanted it to do.

“I wouldn’t categorise The Hundred as a gamble. It’s a profit centre for cricket as has been demonstrated. It was going to bring in £11 million of profit to the game this year. It carries with it an extra dividend to the counties, which is critical revenue to them.”

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