London: The England and Wales Cricket Board stands to lose over 300 million pounds if the COVID-19 pandemic prevents the upcoming season from going ahead, said its chief executive Tom Harrison, who is among the ECB employees taking a pay cut to deal with the crisis.
In another development, England’s centrally contracted players appear to have said no to the ECB’s offer of taking a 20 percent pay cut as part of board’s plans to combat the financial challenges arising out of the pandemic, reported “‘ESPNCricinfo”.
The ECB on Tuesday announced a 61 million support package to tackle the ongoing crisis.
In a letter of Professional Cricketers’ Association chief Tony Irish, Harrison expressed his concerns on the long-term impact of the pandemic. In this communication, Harrison claimed he himself will be taking a 25 percent pay cut for at least the next three months.
“The pandemic is biggest challenge the sport has faced in the modern era although the full extent and impact of the pandemic on cricket is as yet unknown, it is already clear that it will be extremely significant,” wrote Harrison.
With its reserves going down to 11 million pounds in 2018-19 from 73 million pounds in 2015-16, a cricket-less season could make a severe impact on ECB’s balance sheet.
“….by way of offering an indication of the potential scale of the loss to the game, losing an entire cricket season – which is not an outlandish scenario – will cost cricket in England and Wales well in excess of £300m,” Harrison wrote. England has suspended all professional cricket till May 28 due to the pandemic, which has caused more than 40,000 deaths worldwide.
There are concerns with regards to whether the county season, scheduled to start on April 12, can be salvaged this year amid the uncertainty.
“Our absolute priority in the face of this challenge is firstly, to ensure the public safety of our people – our staff, players and colleagues around the game, but secondly, that the cricket network remains intact, and emerges from this crisis in a state to resume our trajectory towards a bright future,” Harrison said.
Harrison said he is expecting the centrally contracted players to take a pay cut in “these circumstances”.
“Whilst the health of the nation is under threat, the future of our sport depends on every single one of us sharing the load right now,” he said.
Harrison said the cuts can be revisited on a monthly basis until “we have navigated through the crisis”.
“…I am encouraging the PCA and all professional players to support the recommendations the first-class counties present to you next week, which may very well propose a 20 per cent reduction in salaries for April and May…,” he said.
“If we can all pull our weight in working together and come through this, then we will not only reinforce the truly inspiring spirit of the cricket family, but we will safeguard the future of our sport and the livelihoods of everyone who works within it,” added the chief executive. The PCA, reportedly, has not responded to the letter yet.