Worcestershire CCC held their latest Online Club Update on Wednesday 27th January, with over 200 members and supporters registering for the event.
Comprehensive updates were given from all areas of the Club from Chairman Fanos Hira, Cricket Steering Group Chairman and Club Vice Chairman, Paul Pridgeon, Finance and Corporate Services Manager, Sarah Gluyas, and Head Groundsman, Tim Packwood. Members and supporters then took the opportunity to ask many varied questions.
The key points from the forum were as follows:
1. New President Cynthia Crawford was welcomed after the sad death of her predecessor, Cecil Duckworth CBE who provided wise and appreciated counsel to the Club – he will be greatly missed. Cynthia’s endearing interview with BBC was recommended to members and supporters and can be found by clicking here.
2. Club is comfortable with the financial outlook despite events in 2020. Whilst revenues were predictably impacted by around £1.8mn in 2020 (due to lack of gate receipts, reduced membership, hospitality and catering) member forbearance, furlough and ECB receipts mitigated the impact.
3. Debt continues to fall impressively despite challenges. Debt at the start of 2016 was £5.6mn this has reduced by approaching £2mn despite the impact of Covid and flooding in 2020. The Club has benefited from the pre-emptive steps taken by Sarah Gluyas and her team to mitigate the financial impact. An impressive achievement, affording the club relative and absolute opportunities. The Club aims to improve on and off the pitch.
4. Impressive new commercial sponsors. Dave Hoskins and his team since our last forum have encouragingly confirmed global and local leaders as new sponsors. The Club is delighted with Morgan as the new shirt sponsor – which has a global and local reach as we, ourselves, aim for. New sponsors A-Plan are already helping our Club with insurance matters, and we have a new sponsor in Utility Stream for training kit. New kit supplier Nike adds to a first-class list to match our first-class ambitions. Grateful thanks to existing loyal sponsors in EBC Group, Greene King and Langley Business Systems.
5. Live Stream/Pitch View – The Club has invested considerably in IT and will do so with live streaming. We expect all Worcestershire CCC games to be live-streamed to members, ongoing debate with ECB and other counties on aggregation methods/media rights. Keeping cricket relevant is the key, whilst not definite, there is a good chance, that non-members will also be able to watch our games. Pitch view camera is hopefully back online soon after historic issues.
6. Comprehensive update on how Worcestershire CCC deal with floods provided. Major renovations to square, net areas and outfield occurred at the end of 2020 season. Grass area had recovered well, advanced plans are in place to improve the practise area. High level of confidence training will return in March at New Road with the ground ready for opening fixture in April. Relationship with Kidderminster as the backup ground continues to be excellent.
7. Annual accounts and finances presented at AGM in March. The Club confirmed virtual AGM will occur this year, accepting technology is not perfect or ideal for all, but we are in an imperfect world. Income has been limited, but costs have been controlled as best as the Club can. Cautious about additional income in 2021, dependant on social distancing restrictions. The Club takes a very conservative view in forecasting, and hope for improvements. Comfortable with financial outlook.
8. Spectators in the ground – all options are being explored. This will be determined by The Sports Ground Safety Authority working with government and input from sports bodies. Restrictions could be quite extensive. The Club is planning for all options – behind closed doors, 25%, 50% and 100% capacity – all scenarios are probable in 2021.
9. Members remain a priority for access to New Road. If restrictions do occur – any seats will be allocated to members first. The Club will need to be nimble, so contact details (email and mobile numbers) are required for members to provide electronic tickets should entry be permitted by the government. Please provide them to the Club.
10. New fixtures should be announced soon. There are understandably many moving parts to producing fixtures, not least the agreement on international schedules. Vitality Blast and Royal London fixtures should come out in the next week.
11. Spinner predictable focus for 2021. Club had identified four potential spinners – however personal reasons prevented the signing of one spinner before Christmas despite contracts being agreed. The Club is hopeful that a signing will occur soon. The Club is also looking at fast bowling cover due to Josh Tongue working his way back from an off-season shoulder operation.
12. Enormous gratitude to Malvern College/COVID. WCCC owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Malvern College for keeping indoor facilities open for our Elite teams (professionals and Academy). Circuit break did occur in training as three players came down with COVID.
13. Pre-season programme progressing well. Everyone is fit and healthy and now back in training. Worcestershire CCC will not be travelling abroad on tour this year having pulled out early last year from Abu Dhabi. Instead, a domestic tour will occur, against other first-class counties. A tentative game at Kidderminster CCC is also planned.
14. Contractual position of players in the final year of their contract. Ben Cox was offered a two-year extension, he chose to refuse it and opted to go into the final year of his contract. Paul Pridgeon said that it would be disappointing if he left, but that is up to the player. The Club would be disappointed if he decides to leave. Other players in their final year include Daryl Mitchell, Ross Whiteley, Riki Wessels, Alex Milton, and Josh Dell.
15. Impressive Academy prospects/2nd XI cricket. The Club has some good prospects in the Academy, which includes off-spin. 2nd XI cricket schedule looks extensive mirroring 1st XI, Royal London Cup provides opportunities for younger players.