The challenges in 2020 resulting from covid-19 were to make the right decisions at the right time to secure the future of this fabulous Club. The challenges in 2021 were also as a result of covid-19 but related to sustaining the operational activities of our Club when conditions for match spectators and allowable trading changed constantly.
For the Club to report a profit in such a year has been described as heroic for the circumstances. The reported profit of £8,477 may be modest but signifies the hard work by all the team at the Club to solve each problem and create opportunities from adversity.
The cricket season began with no spectators allowed, and fixtures played behind closed doors. It was joyous to welcome the small number of members allowed back into the stadium from the end of May 2021. The number of permitted spectators grew as government restrictions were relaxed as the season progressed. The team had to rethink how to provide our members with covid-secure entry, refreshments and toilets at New Road and adapt these plans each time government regulations changed. These enforced alternative arrangements were more costly to stage fixtures at £81,760 compared to an average of £77,625 for an entire season in regular times.
The Club rightly prioritised attendance to members for the fixtures where the number of spectators permitted was severely limited. This significantly restricted the opportunity for ticket sales, and ticket income of £95,502 was just 22% of the average expected for a season.
The Vitality Blast T20 competition has historically been financially successful for all First Class Counties. Due to the restrictions preventing the usual sell-out crowds, the ECB recognised this financial hit and provided a grant to all Counties to compensate, with the Club receiving £189,200.
The Club’s hospitality trade for parties, weddings and conferences was restricted from operating due to government covid-19 rules for the first half of 2021 and remained mothballed during this time. The timing of reopening the stadium for match days also marked the government’s reopening of the hospitality trade, which recovered as the year progressed. Total catering revenues bounced back to around 40% of pre-covid levels at £431,010.
The Commercial team has remained ambitious to push ahead with new developments despite the challenging trading conditions. The Café was reopened, and an all year round retail Club Shop was opened in September. Retail income has shown a remarkable growth of 81% to £76,797.
The number of members in 2021 increased by 13%, and income from membership subscriptions was £298,431. The loyalty and support shown by so many members through these challenging covid-19 times has been heart-warming. Those who continued their membership through the difficult 2020 season, called Exclusive Members, were rightly able to claim a discount on their 2021 membership fee, thereby suppressing the income this year.
Our grateful thanks to all sponsors and advertisers for their continued support and income of £222,001 was received from these sources.
Income from the England & Wales Cricket Board remains the backbone of the Club’s finances. The Club received £3,849,616 in 2021, the highest amount ever and in accordance with the distribution agreement. As all the other income streams of the Club bounce back in the coming period, the ratio of income from ECB to income from commercial activities will swing back to a more desirable position.
The expenditure on cricket has increased in 2021 to £3,021,993, the highest amount ever. The overall wage bill for all players, coaches and support staff remains largely static. A full season of cricket has incurred a full season of costs for away match travel, hotels and subsistence. The costs of operating the ever-growing Talent Pathway of academy and county age-group boys and girls are included in these cricket costs.
Due to these challenging trading conditions, the Club has monitored cash flow carefully hroughout 2021. All loan repayments have been paid when due.
Total debt (including overdraft) has increased by £73,531 during the year. Excluding the overdraft, the Club repaid £218,751 of loans in 2021.
The shoots of economic recovery from Covid-19 are already being seen across the Club as we plan for the coming cricket season and trading year. The targets set by departments for financial success are stretching and are measured against the pre-Covid commercial performance of the Club. Enthusiasm is high for a successful 2022.
Head of Finance & Company Secretary