The ECB has announced “bittersweet” financial results for 2019-20, reporting a record turnover of £228 million while bracing for the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on cricket in England and Wales.
In its strategic report, the ECB attributed the increase in turnover to the staging of last year’s World Cup, and the additional broadcast revenue from the men’s and women’s Ashes series. The ECB reported profits of £6.5 million for the financial year, up from the projected figure of £800,000, and cash reserves were recorded as £17.1m, up from £11.2m.
The appointment of Ian Watmore as Colin Graves’ successor as chair was also ratified at Tuesday’s virtual AGM, with the ECB’s 41 members voting unanimously in his favour. Watmore’s appointment came under scrutiny following a series of reports in the Daily Mail regarding his previous role at the English Football League, but he was cleared of any wrongdoing following a conduct review.
The financial report suggested that in the worst-case scenario in which no cricket was possible this summer, the ECB’s revenues would take a £252m hit across matchday revenues, broadcast and sponsorship income, with a net loss of around £154m accounting for the reduction in costs. Last month, CEO Tom Harrison told a government select committee that the total hit across the whole game – rather than just the ECB – could be as high as £380m.
“Communicable disease” has been added to the list of examples of “loss of cricket due to events outside cricket’s control” in the major risks identified, alongside terror threats and periods of national mourning, though the ECB confirmed on Tuesday that its insurance policy allows it to claim for all lost tickets revenues from advance purchases for this summer.
“With the impact of Covid-19 these results are somewhat bittersweet, but it is nonetheless extremely positive to know that with the right conditions, the game can continue to grow financial momentum for its stakeholders,” Scott Smith, the ECB’s chief financial officer, said.
The ECB’s total headcount has also increased from 342 to 379, and administrative expenditure grew by £22m on account of “special fee distributions” of £1m made to each first-class county relating to last summer’s World Cup.
Remuneration for the highest-paid director – understood to be Harrison – fell from £719,175 last year to £580,459. Harrison took a 25% pay cut for the three months from April as part of the ECB’s first round of internal measures to reduce the impact of the pandemic.
As well as the ratification of Watmore’s appointment, the virtual AGM also saw confirmation that Lord Kamlesh Patel will step down as the board’s senior independent director after five years in the role. The ECB said in a press release that a replacement would be identified in the coming months.
“I have made clear from the start of this process how important the cricket network is to our sport thriving across England and Wales,” Watmore said.
“In a post-Covid-19 world, it is more important than ever before that we see sport connect communities and improve lives. That goal is only achievable with the support of the entire game and I look forward to working with the membership and other key stakeholders in delivering our ambitions.”