Membership scheme grants MCC ‘financial security’ for Lord’s revamp

Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) has announced that the second phase of the transformation of Lord’s will be able to proceed to completion in 2021 after a new membership model provided “sufficient financial security” for the project.

In June, the MCC, owner of the iconic London ground, revealed a lifetime membership plan as it provided an update on the costs of the stadium’s redevelopment and the impact COVID-19 has had on the project.

MCC chief executive and secretary, Guy Lavender, has now written to members detailing that the Club has been “wholly successful” in its efforts. The new membership model had two parts, the first of which was an offer to existing full members to move from paying an annual subscription each year, to making one payment for life.

The second component part, which was said to have been critical in meeting the club’s financial targets was the ability, when necessary, to offer a number of new memberships. The figure presented in June was set at a maximum of 350.

The lifetime MCC membership was priced at £80,000 (€86,270/$102,370) for new members. Selling 350 life memberships would in theory generate £28m in total revenue, which MCC could use to finance projects instead of debt borrowing. At the time, Lord’s had 12,000 people on its member waiting list and the lifetime membership offer effectively allowed fans to “jump the queue” if they were happy to pay the full rate.

Reporting on the outcome of the scheme, Lavender said: “As previously advised, the MCC Committee decided to accept all applications from existing full members and to elect up to 350 new full members. By the closing date of 22 July, we had received 2,208 applications from existing full members and 363 applications for the new vacancies for full membership from associate members and candidates nominated before 1 May 2020.

“Following the initial tranche of payments on 1 September, life membership receipts totalling £22.9m have been banked and we are expecting a further £7.8m by the second and final payment date of 1 October. This accounts for the successful applications of 2,035 existing full members and 339 new full members (comprising 203 associate members and 136 candidates nominated before 1 May 2020).

“In July, the Club chairman (Gerald Corbett) reported the projected outcome net of VAT; for comparison purposes the updated figures are £14.6m from existing full members and £11m from new full members. We expected some withdrawals but the drop-off rate was low, at less than 8%.”

Lavender said that although the number of new full members elected as part of the life membership scheme is currently 11 short of the 350 vacancies approved by members, the Committee has decided not to pursue the expressions of interest from those wishing to participate in the scheme under the provisions for members’ family and friends.

Westminster City Council granted full planning permission for the second phase of the Lord’s redevelopment back in January 2019. The second part of the long-term redevelopment plan first unveiled in 2013 involves the construction of two new three-tier stands to replace the existing Compton and Edrich Stands (pictured last month).

MCC and its building contractor ISG Construction broke ground on the two year-phased project in September 2019. In November and December, the demolition of the old stands was completed and work on the new structures began in January and February, before concrete started to be laid in March and April.

Lavender added: “The revenue generated by the life membership scheme has safeguarded MCC’s position as we approach the completion of the redevelopment of the Compton and Edrich stands. The cautious and prudent approach we have taken towards every area of expenditure in 2020 will, of course, continue as we go into next year and until we have a clearer indication of our likely position on the other side of the pandemic.

“MCC remains debt-free and we have built important cash reserves to create much-needed security. With such an unsettled year ahead, your support ensures we are able to prioritise our Club’s long-term future.”

Images: MCC