ECB relies on reserves in posting £16m loss for 2020
Cricket - 12 May 2021
The England and Wales Cricket Board has posted a loss of £16.1 million for its last financial year as the absence of spectators at matches and the logistical effects of the coronavirus pandemic took their toll.
The deficit covered a period - 12 months to the end of January 2021 - in which fans were not able to attend home international fixtures because of Covid-19 restrictions, while the launch of the ECB's new flagship short-format competition, The Hundred, was delayed by a year to the summer of 2022.
The ECB said that the loss, and the £21 million fall in revenue to £207 million, was due in part to the postponement of The Hundred and extra costs associated with organising a series of biosecure bubbles for players and staff last summer for England's 2020 home series against the West Indies, Ireland, Pakistan and Australia.
The ECB confirmed in the financial statements, announced at the body’s annual general meeting yesterday, that losses amounted to “more than £100 million compared to what had been expected to be received".
The loss follows a profit of £6.5 million in 2019, and has there has been a significant impact on the ECB's reserves, which have dropped from £70 million in 2016 to only £2.2 million at the end of last year.
However, Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said late last year that the bubbles had allowed the organisation to fulfil a full international programme and avoid “financial oblivion” by honouring its domestic broadcast rights deals.
In order to reduce costs, the ECB cut around 60 staff members, lowering its head count from 389 to 331, and also slashed the pay of some senior executives.
Ian Watmore, the ECB’s chairman, said on Tuesday: “Covid-19 has weakened the underlying financial health of the whole game… leading to income falls, cash-flow squeezes, deferred investments, downsizing, an escalation in debt.”
Watmore added that his aim is to “give the whole game a shared big picture over the long term, and the financial and business plan to help the game repair its Covid-inflicted wounds as it moves to a better, more sustainable future".
He said he would do this by “creating a business plan for cricket through modelling scenarios for the future” through to the end of the next cycle in 2031.
The England team's international summer gets under way in Birmingham on 2 June, with the first of two test matches against New Zealand. There are also fixtures against Sri Lanka, India and Pakistan over the next few months, with capacity crowds envisaged by the end of June.
The Hundred is scheduled to take place from 22 July to 21 August.
Meanwhile, the ECB has ratified the appointment of Baroness Valerie Amos as a non-executive independent director, replacing Delia Bushell, the former head of prominent horse racing organisation The Jockey Club who had served on the ECB’s board since May 2018.
Bushell’s position had been under review since Watmore took charge in September last year.
Amos, who was a senior member of the former Labour government in the UK, was described by Watmore as "a true cricket fan who brings with her outstanding experience and expertise".