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When the phone stops ringing: COVID-19 & Lancs Cricket

In an interview in The Times today, Daniel Gidney, Chief Executive, Lancashire County Cricket Club explained how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the club’s finances – and how it is gearing up for the recovery.

He told Mike Atherton, Chief Cricket Correspondent, that “it was the start of the week of March 16 when the phone just stopped ringing.”

In a matter of days the club’s record-breaking £4m EBITDA (from a 2019 with an Ashes Test and Cricket World Cup) disappeared. In the interview, Gidney argues that it is the larger county cricket clubs (with big debts, big facility costs and big payroll) that will suffer more than the smaller counties (with furloughed staff and few overheads).

“If this had happened in 2014 or 2015 we would have gone bust, because we were still in recovery mode,” explained Gidney. But two things have helped the club through: cash reserves from the record financial performance in 2019 and secondly, a refinancing deal with Metro Bank which has halved interest repayments.

Gidney explains that Lancs Cricket is looking at four possible scenarios to bring the club out of the current lockdown. The first ‘best case’ is cricket with crowds from July (considered unlikely) and a conference and events season for the last quarter. The worst case is no cricket and no events this year – which would trigger tough decisions and contingency plans.

At the present time – like so many venues – the club’s executive team is looking at how to re-open as a “bio-secure facility” capable of hosting matches and operhaos crowd. This includes evaluating various health screening measures.

“Health has to come first and I would really struggle with the idea of elite athletes getting tested before frontline personnel,” comments the Chief Executive. “But we’ve got to be ready for when it comes. Sport has a huge role to play in any recovery.”

Read the full interview in The Times here.

Image: Lancs Cricket