While Surrey have an annual revenue of around £32m and Somerset are the model non-Test county, times are tough at Northamptonshire and Durham
Debt-free at present and one of the counties for which Twenty20 cricket – in its current form – is working well, recording a small profit last year from a £5m turnover and having seen phase one of an apartment block project on their land recently completed. There are plans being worked on at present to take one home match to the London Stadium as a possible dry run for the 2019 World Cup. Their chairman, John Faragher, is a vocal opponent of the ECB’s new Twenty20 tournament but says he will be guided by the members.
Set to report a modest profit of £50,000 for 2016 having hosted two England internationals but also seen two Twenty20 fixtures washed out. The club, who stayed in Division One through Durham’s enforced relegation, are a limited company and have diversified of late with a new hotel and the staging of music concerts, as well as a golf course that opens this year. Their assets are around £100m and debts of £10m are considered manageable. Nevertheless, they are actively supportive of the ECB’s new Twenty20 tournament.
The Red Rose county have reported an operating profit of £1.2m for 2016, a 60% increase on the year before. The joke around the club for a long time was that paving over the ground to provide parking for the other Old Trafford would be more profitable than hosting matches and it is non-cricket activity – chiefly conferences and music concerts – that has been the biggest plus, bringing in £3.7m of sales. £60m has been invested in the ground in the past nine years, the latest redevelopments seeing the club’s debt set to rise to over £25m.
The champions turned a loss of £284,000 in 2015 into a pre-tax profit of £117,000 last year thanks to a reduction in operating costs and the receipt of prize money. With the title has come new commercial partners, the most eye-catching of which being Nike as official kit suppliers. As tenants at Lord’s, the club have not, unlike others, been faced with the cost of upgrading facilities and thus they are debt-free, although the new T20 could see costs increase if they have to play more cricket at outgrounds while it is taking place.
Somerset appear the model non-Test county. The club boast 6,000 members and have reported a £600,000 profit for 2016 after selling out their entire Twenty20 home schedule and seeing their new pavilion deliver increased commercial returns. International cricket returns to Taunton in 2017 too, with a men’s T20 international against South Africa and the Women’s World Cup, while the County Ground is also down as a host venue for the 2019 men’s World Cup.
As the big beasts of county cricket, with an annual revenue of around £32m and seven years of profit, it is easy to see why Surrey feel there is little need for a new T20 tournament. Non-matchday revenues have grown from £1.6m to £4.5m in four years, chiefly through staging conferences. The membership sits at 10,000 and with six games in the Champions Trophy this year, their Blast matches against Middlesex and Kent expected to sell out and Tests guaranteed until 2022, all appears rosy at the now 25,000-capacity Oval.
Warwickshire’s reported turnover of £14.3m and operating profit of £785,761 were down on the previous Ashes year as the club manage a debt of £27m which is a result of ground upgrades. However with the next three years seeing Edgbaston play host to five Champions Trophy fixtures, three Tests, a Twenty20 international, two Blast Finals Days and five World Cup matches, and beefing up its catering and retail facilities accordingly, the Bears are bullish.
The county’s £25m debt – a fair chunk of which is owed to a family trust fund set up by their former chairman, Colin Graves – is well-documented and looks set to increase to £40m with the redevelopment of the Football Stand End that will keep their international status beyond 2019. Their chairman, Steve Denison, believes the current borrowings will be repaid in 10 years through the increased cash flow from this refurbishment and the £1.3m a year from the new T20 tournament.
In contrast to their on-field performances, Derbyshire have enjoyed an upturn in fortunes after recording a surplus for the past six years under their departing chairman, Chris Grant. This summer sees their ground play host to a Sir Elton John concert and eight matches in the Women’s World Cup. Their debt, which includes a £2m bridging loan that went towards a £3.6m upgrade of facilities and was taken out in advance of ECB grants being paid, is described by the club as manageable.
Durham’s financial woes are the most well-documented in the County Championship, having accepted a £3.8m bailout from the ECB last October and been relegated with a string of points deductions in all three competitions to boot. A further £3.7m owed to the local council has been converted into shares in the club’s new community interest company. As well as losing Test status, they are now subject to a special salary cap until 2020 and will not receive prize money “until all debts owed by the club to ECB have been settled”.
After a profit in the Ashes year of 2015, when they also saw £11.5m of debt written off, Glamorgan reported a £307,778 operating loss in March that demonstrated once more how at mercy they are to the fluctuations of the international allocation. With the Swalec Stadium one of three host venues for the Champions Trophy, including England versus New Zealand, they should break even this year at worst but it is little wonder Glamorgan are so keen for the ECB’s new T20 tournament, the £1.3m per season it would bring, and the likelihood of having a team in Wales.
The club are set to record a surplus of £100,000 for 2016 – their third in a row – and the £4m debt is considered manageable at present. Three one-day internationals over the next three years, including the first visit by Ireland next month, and eight matches in this summer’s Women’s World Cup, sees Gloucestershire optimistic although there is a battle yet to be fought over whether Bristol, Cardiff or Taunton will be the hosts for the western team in the new Twenty20 tournament.
A small loss of £65,000 in 2016, which followed six years of financial growth, came chiefly through the lack of a tour match against international opposition and the failure to secure a home quarter-final in either the NatWest T20 Blast or Royal London Cup. The club did repay almost £2m in loans and recorded an increase in membership. Despite the promise of £1.3m per season, the club have been one of the few dissenting voices when it comes to the ECB’s new T20 tournament.
Two years of recording a small profit, after three years of losses in excess of £500,000, and various upgrades to the facilities at Grace Road has seen the mood at Leicestershire switch to one of optimism under their chief executive, Wasim Khan. Key to the recovery has been increased commercial activity, such as a five-year naming rights to the ground, and the staging of a Sir Elton John concert last summer. This year they host seven matches in the Women’s World Cup, including England versus Pakistan.
Generating cash and peeling themselves away from a dependence on the ECB central payments remains an issue at Northants and such that their chairman, Gavin Warren, was quoted last year saying they were counting every loo roll. They have since taken the dramatic step of converting from a members club to a limited company as a way of bringing in investment and in January more than half of the £1.9m owed to the council – a loan that helped upgrade facilities – was paid off.
The club recorded a £740,000 loss for 2016 but this figure was 50% less than budgeted for and chiefly down to the fact they did not host a Test match. An ODI and Test against South Africa at Trent Bridge this year, followed by an attractive allocation thereafter, will likely see a return to profit once more. Their £2.4m debt is manageable but the carrot of £1.3m a year from the ECB’s new Twenty20 tournament, and the likely hosting of one of the eight teams, is still attractive.
Ticket sales were down in 2016 but commercial income went up such that a small profit of £1,000 was recorded after a loss the previous year – a satisfactory situation, according to their departing chairman Jim May, given the club currently have no external debt. Originally unconvinced by the ECB’s T20 revolution and one of three clubs to vote against it last September, they have come into the fold on the basis of no county names being used and Hove still staging the 50-over cup at the same time.
The club have recently seen £1m of their £5.2m debt cut and the rest put on better interest rates in a restructuring package and their stated aim is to have the deficit paid off before 2020 so the £1.3m bounty from the new Twenty20 tournament will go towards cricket, not creditors – a worthy aim in keeping with their status as a conveyor belt of talent. With this comes a call to arms from their chief executive, Tom Scott, to increase their commercial endeavours after admitting to losing ground to the Premiership rugby team Worcester Warriors.