Amongst many other sectors, the sports industry has been hit globally due to COVID-19 spread. Especially those outdoor sports which involve the most number of players and of course the numerous spectators, for example, cricket.
It is expected that the financial structure of international cricket is most likely to witness a change, and some cricketing bodies will face a crisis in funds. In fact, one of the wealthiest boards Cricket Australia (CA) had already claimed to lose some 300 Australian dollars.
Currently, CA is under substantial economic burden due to the worldwide lockdown and has laid off 80 per cent of its staff. However, they are still hopeful of India’s four-Test tour in December-January as it could provide relief to the stressed cricketing body. The Australian board is even exploring all options to ensure both the T20 World Cup, which is scheduled to take place in October there, as well as the India tour, happens and to do that they are considering the option of organizing matches in empty stadiums.
“We might not generate financial returns from that event that are as significant as the international cricket season (in Australia). But what we do know is that the bigger returns from the broadcast rights around the event that are generated by the ICC are significant to all of our counterparts around the cricket world. So it’s incumbent on us to do everything possible to stage and host the T20 World Cup,” CA chief executive Kevin Roberts had said.
Apart from CA, another vibrant board – England and Wales Cricket (ECB) – has also been hit severely by the Coronavirus outbreak followed by the lockdown in the country. As per a report in SkySports, ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has cautioned that coronavirus could cost the country’s cricket board £380m.
Since the current year’s inaugural edition of The Hundred has already been postponed, and there is no professional cricket scheduled before July, the ECB is set to lose a whopping amount. The worst news is that another scheduled Test series against West Indies and Pakistan are now in doubt as the spread of COVID-19 doesn’t look like it will end in the near few months.
“We are still working out the impact of Covid-19. We anticipate with no cricket this year a worst-case scenario could be as bad as £380m. That would be the loss of 800 days of cricket across all of our professional clubs and the ECB. That is the worst-case scenario for us this year,” said Harrison.
“With the following wind hopefully we will be able to play a significant number of Test matches this summer which would help us mitigate those financial losses that we are facing at the moment,” Harrison added.
The Hundred – a professional franchise 100-ball cricket tournament – has already been cancelled which is a big blow for the ECB, as it was due to make £11m profit after selling 170,000 tickets for the men’s and women’s competition. Still, Harrison is optimistic that The Hundred which has been shifted for next year will receive a similar response from the fans as it earned this year.
“In terms of the position we put ourselves in for The Hundred, right at the moment Covid-19 struck, we were in a very, very strong place. The game had never sold that number of tickets at that speed before, with the exception of the Cricket World Cup,” Harrison added further.
“The profile of ticket buyers was extremely encouraging. Young adults and parents were coming with their children. Doing exactly the job, we wanted it to do. There was a huge amount of momentum building around The Hundred which we will carry into next year when we will renew our ambition to continue to grow the game in a post-COVID scenario,” concluded the ECB chief.