English Counties Plan For Bright Future As ECB Allocates $1.5M For All 18 Counties
An Ashes summer and a £1M ($1.5M) windfall from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) "should help the 18 first-class counties to bounce back from one of the toughest trading years in recent memory," according to Paul Bolton of the London TELEGRAPH. The wettest summer in a century combined with the counter-attraction of the London Olympic Games meant that "attendances fell across the country and produced some eye-watering losses last year." Warwickshire lost more than £600,000 ($918,000) as a result of having four of the seven days of int'l cricket at Edgbaston washed out. Middlesex, who lost £519,000 ($795,000), blamed a £121,000 ($185,000) reduction in gate receipts "on the poor weather and the impact of the Olympics." However, the profile of cricket "will rise during an Ashes summer and will directly benefit four counties" -- Somerset, Worcestershire, Sussex and Northamptonshire -- who can each "expect a six-figure financial windfall from hosting matches against Australia." The ECB, though, is "keen for counties to diversify their business interests." The ECB has made £1M available to each county, "which must be spent on capital projects rather and not squandered on players’ wages." ECB Professional Cricket Managing Dir Gordon Hollins said, “We asked the counties to show us what they would do with £1 million over the next five years to make sure that their plans are aligned with our strategic priorities” (TELEGRAPH, 4/8).