County cricket could lose between £52m and £67m of revenue if next season is Covid-19 affected

Nick Hoult
·2 min read
The 2 sides take to the field during Day 5 of the Bob Willis Trophy Final between Somerset and Essex at Lord's Cricket Groun - Getty Images
The 2 sides take to the field during Day 5 of the Bob Willis Trophy Final between Somerset and Essex at Lord's Cricket Groun - Getty Images

County cricket is facing a reduction in revenue of between £52-£67m if next season is badly affected by Covid-19, according to the latest research.

A report by Oakwell Sports Advisory, a consultancy firm that offers specialist financial advice to the sports industry, seen by Telegraph Sport predicts a 34-43 percent drop in income if the next county season is played behind closed doors, a disastrous scenario that would push some clubs to the brink of extinction. 

Oakwell, who employ MIke Fordham, a senior executive at the England & Wales Cricket Board until last year, warn of an average matchday revenue drop of £3.73m per county if there is no matchday income in 2021, which remains a strong possibility.

The counties have so far absorbed 2020 losses and the promise of a full ECB payment next year has eased some concerns but there are genuine fears about clubs going bust if next summer is also played without supporters at grounds.

Oakwell’s research says that each county could still lose £2.88m if fans are allowed through the turnstiles but capacities are reduced by 75 percent due to social distancing guidelines. 

“Test-venue counties will suffer proportionately more as their revenue stream is largely made up of match related income,” says the report. “For example, Warwickshire face a reduction of 70 per cent of their total revenue from no match related income alone. Non-Test grounds are more reliant on ECB grants as their total revenue is circa three times lower than Test match grounds. Grants are still set to rise next year to circa.£3.7m – depending on the category of ground and fulfilment of international fixtures and TV revenue – offering valuable relief to those counties.”

Earlier this year Oakwell recommended the ECB should consider private investment in the Hundred competition, similar to the IPL funding model, to raise significant sums and fill the void caused by the pandemic. 

The ECB has already announced 62 job cuts at the governing body and Tom Harrison, the board’s chief executive, warned losses across the game could rise to £200m if next season is also disrupted by the pandemic.

Ian Watmore, the board’s new chairman, painted a gloomy picture for cricket last month if the pandemic continues to prevent supporters attending games. “A “two year problem” to be recovered over three years is much more serious, potentially requiring parts of the game to shrink, and a general lowering of ambition going forward,” he wrote in a blog on the ECB website. “A plan is needed in case this is forced upon us by external events, but even more planning must go in to avoiding it in the first place.”