Coronavirus outbreak: County cricket latest




The COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic has led to the start of the English season being put back until at least May 28, and left many counties facing a potentially damaging shortfall in finances. Most are expected to take advantage of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme. How has your club responded to the situation? Here we will keep track of ongoing developments.

Derbyshire

Players and the majority of non-playing staff have been furloughed. “We have a highly-valued network of staff across the club and this programme will allow us to protect jobs and plan for long-term sustainability,” said chief executive Ryan Duckett.

“We will continue to proactively prepare for a return to cricket once it is safe to do so and I would like to thank all players, staff, supporters and stakeholders for their ongoing support and understanding.”

Durham

Players and staff have been placed on furlough, though the club will top up salaries to ensure everyone receives full pay.

CEO Tim Bostock thinks that bigger counties are more likely to suffer significantly as a result of the crisis due to the fact a lower percentage of their income comes from the ECB, with events, conferences and hotels all contributing significantly in a typical year.

“They’ve got businesses that rely on income outside of ECB regular monthly funding – particularly I can think of Lancashire, Warwickshire and Yorkshire, the Ageas Bowl,” Bostock told talkSPORT. “They’ve done the right thing, they’ve diversified so that they can survive without ECB income, but what that has meant is… that has fallen off the edge of a cliff through no fault of their own. That is a major challenge.

“A club like Durham – a larger percentage of our income comes from the guaranteed ECB income as a result of the new television deal, and therefore we are much less exposed. I can confidently say that what’s coming in is more than what’s going out.

“We absolutely are in a position where we don’t need to lay anybody off, and we don’t need to reduce anybody’s salary. Rather than reducing headcount and making savings, we took the view that we would support [our staff].”

The club have closed the Riverside to the public and non-essential staff, and also offered use of the ground to the local council and the NHS.

Veteran seamer Chris Rushworth will run a half-marathon on May 1 to raise funds for the Solan Connor Fawcett Family Cancer Trust, who are providing food and care for families dealing with cancer in the northeast amid the coronavirus outbreak and beyond.

“Hopefully at the moment it will be around the streets and parks where I live,” he said. “If restrictions are in place then I’ll have to do it in my back garden. Someone did the maths and said it was 952 laps of the garden, so that will be interesting.”

Essex

The club’s playing staff and the majority of non-playing staff have been placed on furlough leave “until further notice”. Chief executive Derek Bowden said: “By utilising the coronavirus job retention scheme, we are able to preserve and protect jobs at The Cloudfm County Ground during a financially damaging period.”

The signing of Australia seamer Peter Siddle, who was due back at Chelmsford for a third season running, has also been deferred until 2021.

Alastair Cook has said that he would prefer there not to be a County Championship this season if the alternative is a less “meaningful” reduced campaign. Bowden has suggested a series of regional first-class competitions could be played instead.

Squad members including Tom Westley, Simon Harmer, Shane Snater and Rishi Patel spent the morning of April 6 preparing over 1000 hot meals for NHS staff across 13 hospitals across Essex and London, and the elderly and vulnerable.

Westley said: “It’s really important that we go into the local community and help where it’s both safe and possible. The key workers on the frontline have been doing an amazing job, so if we can support them in any way, we will.”

Glamorgan

Players, coaches, and the majority of staff have been placed on furlough leave until the end of May, and senior staff have taken a 25% pay cut.

Chief executive Hugh Morris said: “This is not a decision that the club have taken lightly, but it’s a necessary one to help preserve the jobs of all the staff at Glamorgan.

“We are incredibly grateful to all members of staff for recognising the challenges to the finances of the club and willingly engaging in the measures taken to help protect the future of Glamorgan.”

Gloucestershire

Cheteshwar Pujara’s stint at the club is off following the delay to the start of the season.

The club confirmed in a statement that it had “significantly reduced the number of staff and players actively working” and that “sizeable savings” for April and May had been made.

“Our financial projections show that, even on the worst case scenario of no cricket at all this season, the club should be able to break even this year and be ready to face the future in a strong financial position when this crisis has passed,” the statement said.

Hampshire

The signing of Australia spinner Nathan Lyon for the majority of the Championship campaign has been shelved, although Hampshire hope to still have Shaheen Afridi for the Vitality Blast.

“”There’s a lot of unknowns around Pakistan touring and he’s obviously an integral part of their setup,” director of cricket, Giles White, said. “So, we’ll just have to see what the tournament looks like and the positioning in the calendar before we can see whether it’s possible to have him with us.”

Kent

Playing staff have been placed on furlough leave, effective from April 9, with the situation to be reviewed regularly from the start of May. Non-playing staff were furloughed on April 6. Players’ salaries will not be topped up by the club. Captain Sam Billings remains non-furloughed to support the club’s efforts in the community, but has taken a temporary 20% pay cut in line with the rest of the squad.

Director of cricket Paul Downton said: “This outcome has not been reached lightly and I want to thank all of our players who are standing shoulder to shoulder with their colleagues during the pandemic. We will continue to monitor this situation closely.”

Executive directors have voluntarily agreed to a short-term pay cut of 20% and are in talks with local council to discuss terms of a loan repayment, among other measures.

“We feel these are exceptional circumstances,” chief executive Simon Storey told ESPNcricinfo. “We will find a way through this for Kent.”

Lancashire

The club confirmed on April 7 that it does not intend to furlough playing staff. “None of [the club’s training regime] would be available to the players if they were to be furloughed, and it is our intention not to do so, whilst keeping the situation under review,” said Paul Allott, the director of cricket.

“Ultimately, we have to ensure they are as ready as they can be for a cricket season to commence and we will continue to work towards that objective over the coming weeks and months. All of the measures that the club is adopting and implementing are fully endorsed and appreciated by the PCA.”

However, deals for overseas players BJ Watling, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner have been cancelled for 2020.

Chief executive Daniel Gidney has issued a statement to members, signalling his intention to keep hold of staff where possible.

“We’re carrying that large staff payroll – when the turnover drops off like that and the phone just stops ringing, that has a catastrophic short-term effect on any organisation,” Gidney said. “We have some difficult measures to make, we have some cost-cutting to do, but we’re doing everything we can to protect our biggest asset which is our staff.”

Chairman David Hodgkiss has died aged 71 after contracting the virus. A club statement said: “He was much loved by everyone at Lancashire Cricket Club and respected throughout the cricketing world. Our sincere condolences and thoughts and prayers are with his family.”

The club will offer 5000 tickets for a T20 Blast game to NHS staff as “a gesture of support for their ongoing heroic efforts”.

Leicestershire

The majority of the club’s staff, including players and coaches, have been placed on furlough leave for an initial three-week period until the end of April. “This has not been an easy decision to make, but I would like to thank all of our staff who have worked incredibly hard and acted professionally to perform their roles during a period of such uncertainty,” said chair Mehmooda Duke.

Middlesex

All of the club’s players, and the majority of coaches, admin and support staff, have been furloughed until further notice. Those with salaries above £27,500 have also agreed to take a 17% pay cut, initially until the end of May. Senior management have agreed 20% pay cuts.

“We are operating in unprecedented times,” chief executive, Richard Goatley, said. “We have to make difficult decisions that not only protect the future of Middlesex Cricket but the jobs of our employees.

“For all staff to agree voluntarily to a significant salary reduction for the next two months is testament to how invested they are in Middlesex Cricket and committed to helping the Club through this crisis. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone across the Club for their understanding in these difficult times.”

Northamptonshire

Northants’ professional playing and support staff have been furloughed with players agreeing to take a pay cut consistent with other non-playing staff at the club. The agreement will initially run through April and May, with the situation being monitored during that time.

Chief Executive Ray Payne said: “We see this as a positive move that will help ensure longevity across the club in these unprecedented times. One thing that has always been at the forefront of our minds has been a ‘one club’ approach and thankfully everyone at the club has shared the vision of being in this together.”

Alex Wakely‘s benefit year was pushed back to 2021. “We’d put a lot of work into it and most of my events were ready to go and we were in a really good place,” he told the Independent. “But ultimately regardless of anything, I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it.”

Somerset

The club has decided to furlough “a significant proportion” of staff for April, with reviews to follow beyond that.

Chief executive Gordon Hollins said: “By taking advantage of the government’s coronavirus job retention scheme, we are able to preserve jobs at the Cooper Associates County Ground during such a difficult financial period for the club. It also ensures that we will be in a strong position to face the opportunities and challenges that will lie ahead once we have overcome this pandemic.”

Surrey

Veteran allrounder Rikki Clarke has signed up as an NHS volunteer. “Might not be much but anything that can make the difference to someone in need is good enough for me,” he tweeted.

Australian seamer Michael Neser’s overseas contract has been cancelled. The club have so far opted against furloughing players.

Sussex

The club has furloughed the majority of its non-playing staff, plus all players and coaches. Chief executive Rob Andrew said: “The board of Sussex Cricket, with the support of the executive leadership team, are making decisions in the best interests of everyone’s health and in order to protect everyone’s jobs when we do return to normality.”

Head coach Jason Gillespie has flown back to Australia, and is currently in self-isolation. “I get packages of supplies dropped off by my family,” he told the Sussex website. “I hear the doorbell ring and go to the door where I see the family standing 30 feet away.”

Warwickshire

Players have been ringing elderly members to make sure they are coping with self-isolation. “The main takeaway we both took from the conversation was that perspective at times like these is really important,” said batsman Adam Hose after one call. “You have to take a step back and be really thankful for the things you do have.”

Playing and non-playing staff have been furloughed, with the club guaranteeing 100% of players’ salaries. Edgbaston will become a coronavirus testing centre for NHS staff.

Worcestershire

Playing and non-playing staff furloughed with the club offering players a guaranteed 90 percent of their wages.

A club statement on April 6 said that provisional work had indicated the crisis could have a cost of over £1.1m, “which for a club that in 2019 made a statutory loss of £89.3k and has £4.3 million of debt is substantial”.

Chairman Fanos Hira told BBC Hereford and Worcester that the club’s “lean structure” will be helpful during the crisis.

“We’re the only county that doesn’t have a six-figure paid CEO,” he said. “We don’t have a director of cricket either, probably on similar pay, so we are a lean structure.

“In the past where it has probably been disadvantageous to counties with non-Test match grounds, now we’re not reliant on the vast amounts of hospitality income or big functions that occur in these vast venues.

“So, in many respects, although the impact on us is great, for many other counties with higher fixed costs that impact could be a lot greater. Perhaps it’s an advantage to us during this period of enormous uncertainty.”

Yorkshire

Playing and coaching staff have been placed on furlough leave following a board meeting on Friday, April 3. The previous week, the club had confirmed the decision to furlough “a large proportion of staff”.

Director of cricket Martyn Moxon said: “We are in the midst of a national crisis and cricket is secondary at this moment. From a club point of view, we feel that these measures need to be taken to ensure as little damage as possible to the business.

“The players are disappointed not to be playing as they have worked hard during the winter and have been excited about the season ahead. However, they are all fully understanding of the club’s decision and we hope that the situation improves as quickly as possible to ensure that everyone can resume some kind of normality as soon as possible.”



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