Andrew confident English cricket can weather virus storm


Sussex chief executive Rob Andrew believes English cricket is better placed to cope with the financial impact of the coronavirus than either his old sport of rugby union or football.

This week has seen England’s Professional Cricketers’ Association announce their members will take “maximum reductions” in their salaries during April and May.

The players have also agreed to waive £1 million ($1.25 million) in prize money as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Cricket’s wage bill is significantly lower than that of football with only a handful of England players earning anything like £1 million a year compared to the hundreds of thousands a week banked by Premier League stars.

“Yes, cricket has some challenges but you could argue it’s got fewer than maybe football or rugby union,” former England fly-half Andrew told reporters in a conference call on Thursday,

“In those sports the cost bases are driven by TV money and they are driven predominantly in player wages.”

The county championship, comprising four-day matches, was due to start on Sunday but English cricket is shut down until at least May 28, with the expectation of further postponements.

But the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have already distributed an initial £61 million ($76 million) aid package to the 18 first-class counties.

Meanwhile, Sussex are one of several clubs taking advantage of the British government’s furlough job-retention scheme, although they remain in talks with Australia batsman Travis Head, who had been lined up as their overseas player,

Andrew, a former senior figure at England’s Rugby Football Union, said: “The ECB, have reacted very quickly in this situation.

“Governing bodies often get a lot of stick, and I have personal experience of that in another sport, but the reaction across cricket has been fantastic.

“From what I’ve seen the ECB reaction is going to give cricket the best chance to survive, even in the worst-case scenario.”

That worst-case scenario is a season without any cricket at all but Gloucestershire insisted Thursday they could still balance their books regardless.

“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,” said a joint statement by Gloucestershire chairman John Hollingdale and chief executive Will Brown.