Key questions about the ECB’s financial rescue fund
The England and Wales Cricket Board has announced a financial stimulus package worth £61million to support the game during its hiatus during the ongoing pandemic.
Here the PA news agency looks at some of the details.
£61million is a lot. Who will get it and how?
It is important to note that the ECB has not engaged in any new borrowing. It has used existing cash reserves and shifted the timelines of already agreed payments to offer up an immediate injection of £40million to be split by the 18 first-class counties, the MCC and the regional county cricket boards. In addition more than £20m is being made available for interest-free loans and grants.
Why is such drastic action needed?
The game generates the majority of its money – at professional and recreational levels – through the summer months when the season is active. No cricket will be played until May 28 at the earliest and current modelling is treating a full-scale write-off of the 2020 campaign as a live possibility. Tickets, merchandise, catering and equipment purchases will probably fall off a cliff, leaving a yawning hole in everyone’s budget.
Will it be enough?
That depends on how long the current crisis continues. ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has made it clear this is a short-term measure, covering the initial impact. In the event that the season is pushed further back, or even cancelled entirely, more may be required to keep counties and clubs in business.
Are there likely to be pay cuts or furloughs to follow?
Harrison has confirmed he will take an undisclosed cut on his near £720,000 salary, while the ECB is due to explore furlough options among non-playing staff. England’s centrally contracted players will not be asked to take cuts but captain Joe Root has suggested voluntary action will be discussed. At county level, players could be stood down temporarily if their clubs seek to use the government’s emergency scheme.
How are broadcast deals affected?
This summer is the first in a five-year deal worth £1.1billion but the exact details of the agreement are subject to confidentiality clauses. It is, though, hard to believe that the full range of payments will be made in the event of lucrative international matches being cancelled.
What measures are under consideration for cricket’s return?
Although problematic and undesirable, the idea of playing behind closed doors is a live option. To do so the ECB would need to provide evidence that a “bio-secure” environment could be established for players, coaches and others in attendance. The plan would also require government sign-off in the current circumstances. Specially chartered flights and quarantine hotels for this summer’s international touring teams – the West Indies, Australia, Ireland and Pakistan – have also been discussed. It is even possible that separate limited-overs and Test squads could play in parallel. No idea is currently deemed off limits.
What about The Hundred?
The new 100-ball competition has been designed to attract a new audience, with a huge marketing blitz and huge amounts of cash devoted to its roll-out. Increasingly it seems like this summer will not provide the platform needed for a successful launch and a delay until 2021 is on the table. That would be a huge blow considering the importance placed on its success – but would still be preferable to kicking off in a curtailed form in front of empty stands.