The England and Wales Cricket Board has insisted it has sufficient resources to survive the financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic – even in a worst-case scenario where it could lose £252m if no cricket is played this summer.
On a day when Ian Watmore was unanimously ratified as the ECB’s new chair from September, English cricket’s governing body also revealed a record £228m turnover for the 2019-20 financial year due to the success of last year’s Ashes and the Cricket World Cup.
That was an increase in turnover of £56m on 2018 and it enabled the ECB to give the 18 counties an additional £1m as their share of World Cup profits, invest in projects such as Dynamos Cricket targeted at junior players, and to report a profit of £6.5m, up £1.5m on the previous year.
However the ECB conceded the results were “bittersweet” because of the subsequent financial blow caused by the virus. Last month Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said the organisation would lose at least £100m even if Tests against West Indies and Pakistan went ahead in a biosecure bubble and it is likely the ECB will have to find a way to cut its costs even in a best-case scenario.
Colin Graves, the outgoing chairman of the ECB, said: “The game’s newest test, the threat of Covid-19, will challenge us all. I am certain that no corner of the game will emerge the same. It will be our ability to stay united and remain agile that will see us through this most difficult of times.”
England are still hoping to stage a near full international campaign this summer, starting with the West Indies Tests which are slated for 8, 16 and 24 July. Meanwhile the county game has been pushed back to 1 August at the earliest, with a variety of shortened-season models being assessed, including regionally divided competitions.
The ECB said that it will have “sufficient cash to continue operating” even if the entire season is lost and it is hit with a £252m cut in its expected revenue. The ECB’s financial statement also shows its staff rose from 342 to 379 in the past year. Those employees, which were largely brought in for the Ashes and World Cup and to help organise the Hundred, have added another £4.5m on its wage bill.
Harrison’s pay package went down from £719,000 in 2019 to £580,000 in 2020. The ECB has boosted its reserves from £11.2m in 2018 to £17.1m.
The ECB’s chief financial officer, Scott Smith, said: “The success of hosting the Cricket World Cup and men’s and women’s Ashes on home soil saw us achieve record revenues for the game, and allowed us to distribute more funding across the game than ever before.
“With the impact of Covid-19 these results are somewhat bittersweet, but it is nonetheless extremely positive to know that with the right conditions the game can continue to grow financial momentum for its stakeholders.”