Test Match Sofa
Clifford sounds weather warning
By Mark Baldwin
Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford has warned that county clubs are approaching a critical month in their financial years, following the prolonged bad weather that continues to disfigure the 2012 season.
The current, rain-ravaged round of LV County Championship matches is the last four-day domestic cricket being staged until July 10, due to the imminent arrival next week of the Friends Life t20.
And it is the danger of serious disruption to Twenty20 cricket, given no signs of a let-up in the stormy weather patterns that have battered England and Wales for most of the time since the competitive season began on April 5, which is beginning to worry county bosses around the country.
Twenty20 games provide, for all counties, a significant proportion of their annual income – both in terms of gate receipts and associated commercial revenue such as food and drink, shop merchandise and match programme sales.
Clifford, speaking during the waterlogged 100th Tunbridge Wells festival week, where Kent are playing Hampshire in a Championship fixture, Northants in a Clydesdale Bank 40 game on Sunday and then Sussex in their t20 opener next Tuesday evening, said that the poor weather was already in danger of costing Kent £50,000 in lost revenue over the first five days of their traditionally hugely-popular Cricket Week at the Nevill Ground.
“The forecast is not very good for Sunday either, and our CB40 matches do not come under the same insurance schemes that cover counties for Twenty20 games,” said Clifford.
“If it rains again on Sunday, and affects how many people come along for that game, then our lost gate receipts for the week so far will reach £50,000. But, for county cricket in general, it is the danger of the Twenty20 Cup matches being washed away which is the biggest fear at the moment – even with the insurance cover in place.
“There are so many associated strands of revenue that are generated when you get big crowds in for the Twenty20 games, that we could still see big numbers in terms of overall losses. Of course, we are all hoping for a turn in the weather, and the sun to shine, because at the moment people are quite naturally not committing themselves to attend county matches as the forecasts are so bad.
“Also, if the rain keeps coming and disrupts the Twenty20 window between next week and early July it will also put the whole issue of when we play these games – and how many of them we have each season – back at the centre of what is already an ongoing debate about county cricket's structure. This year, of course, with just five home t20 games per county, as opposed to the eight we had last season, there are three fewer opportunities anyway for every county to generate this vital income.”
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