ECB chairman Ian Watmore lays out vision for repairing cricket’s ‘Covid wounds’


Board finances report major dip in reserves after £100m shortfall in 2020

Ian Watmore, the ECB’s chairman, has announced his ambition to “help the game repair its Covid-inflicted wounds” via a business plan that will reduce the “unsustainable levels of debt” within English cricket.

The ECB reported a drop in group reserves to £2.2 million – just over 1% of turnover, compared to a desired 40% – and a pre-tax loss of £16m for the year ending January 31, 2020 on Tuesday, following its annual general meeting.

“Covid-19 has weakened the underlying financial health of the whole game – professional cricket in particular – leading to income falls, cash-flow squeezes, deferred investments, downsizing, an escalation in debt, all against an uncertain global and domestic economic backdrop,” Watmore wrote in his blog. “This has led to concerns of survival, stability and sustainability of many entities within the game, and hence the entire ‘eco-system’ of the game as we know it.”

In its financial statements for 2020-21, the ECB confirmed that revenue losses amounted to “more than £100m compared to what had been expected to be received” and highlighted the postponement of the Hundred and the staging of biosecure international cricket as key factors.

The ECB reported that overall group reserves were down to £2.2m, down from £17.1m last year and £73.1m in 2016. With turnover of £207m – a fall of £21m from the previous year – reserves are £80m below the desired level of 40%.

Cost-cutting measures last year included stopping some planned investment, furloughing staff, and pay reductions, as well as reducing head count from 389 to 331 through a redundancy programme.

Watmore also revealed his intention to “work with the game to create a business plan for cricket through modelling scenarios for the future” for the years 2022-31, when the next cycle of international cricket concludes.