English cricket chiefs blame virus for £16.1m annual loss

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Cricket bat (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)
Cricket bat (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) reported an annual loss of £16.1 million ($22.8 million) on Tuesday, saying the coronavirus pandemic had whittled down cash reserves to just £2.2 million.

In 2016, the ECB announced it had reserves of more than £70 million.

But the start-up costs associated with the Hundred, the ECB's new 100 balls-per-side competition, helped reduce that figure to about 11 million by 2019 -- before the pandemic took hold.

The Hundred is due to make its debut in 2021 after a year's delay because of Covid-19.

The ECB said revenue losses across English cricket as a whole, after a year of playing matches behind closed doors, amounted to more than 100 million.

But that is some way short of the worst-case scenario. The ECB feared it could lose 380 million had the entire 2020 season been wiped out but a full international programme went ahead in a bio-secure bubble.

"This has been a challenging year," said Scott Smith, chief financial officer at the ECB.

"But by being able to stage international cricket and by taking decisive action early in the pandemic, we have been able to support the network and avoid a far worse financial scenario.

"There remains considerable uncertainty over the year ahead, but we hope that delivering another full summer of cricket -- and with crowds beginning to return from next week -- we are able to protect the revenue we need to invest in growing our game."

ECB revenue fell by £21 million to £207 million. The financial statement said the delay to the Hundred and costs of staging bio-secure cricket had contributed to the decline.

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