English cricket chief warns of R8.7bn hole if no matches played
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LONDON – English cricket is braced for losses of up to £380 million (R8.7bn) if no matches are played this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Tom Harrison, CEO of The England and Wales Cricket Board.
The cricket season was due to begin on April 2, but no matches will be played now until the start of July at the earliest.
"We anticipate the cost of no cricket this year could be as bad as £380 million. That is the worst-case scenario for us," Harrison told the UK government's Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee about the impact of coronavirus.
"That would be the loss of 800 days of cricket across all of our professional clubs and the ECB. It is the most significant financial challenge we have ever faced."
The sport's new competition, The Hundred, which Harrison described as a "profit centre" for cricket that was expected to add 11 million pounds of revenue to the game in its first year, has been postponed until next year.
A three-match Test Series with the West Indies originally scheduled for June has been postponed until later in the summer.
England are due to play a series of T20 and one-day internationals against Australia in July and a Test series against Pakistan in July and August.
Harrison was still hopeful some Test matches would take place without spectators, which would still incur a loss of around £100 million. But he said such matches were subject to serious logistical difficulties while the coronavirus continues to be a global threat.
"The complexities of lockdown in those nations means there's a huge amount of complexity to bring teams over, follow government guidelines and get players ready," he added.
"But with a following wind, hopefully will be able to play a significant number of Test matches this summer which will help us mitigate those financial losses that we are facing at the moment."