By Charles Randall
1 February 2013
More financial help has been promised by the ECB for community clubs severely damaged by the winter floods. One of the best known casualties has been Stratford-on-Avon CC, a total lake, but many other grounds have suffered.
With some clubs facing the prospect of losing their facilities for the 2013 season, the ECB announced this week after a board meeting at Lord's that another £420,000 had been earmarked for relief in addition to emergency funding allocated to several clubs hit by the persistent heavy rain in the summer.
The ECB chief executive David Collier said: "Further flooding in November 2012 severely impacted 40 of our community clubs nationwide. Those clubs need urgent financial assistance from ECB to repair the damage, and this award will help ensure that their grounds can stage cricket again from the start of next season."
During the 2012 summer the ECB awarded £104,000 to reinstate ruined facilities at nine clubs, matching the £100,000 provided by Sport England. This time the damage is much more widespread.
Stratford, the Birmingham & District League club who produced Warwickshire's captain Jim Troughton, have launched their own appeal fund to reinstate their Swan's Nest Lane ground, but they are likely to rely on ECB assistance. The Avon floods claimed at least one more victim when Evesham CC announced they needed money desperately after extensive damage.
The long list of community clubs under water included Budleigh Salterton CC, amazingly to a depth of 15ft, Tewkesbury CC and Taunton Deane CC. A particularly sad case has been Threlkeld CC, the Cumbrian club near Keswick once named by Wisden Cricketers Almanack as one of the five prettiest grounds in the United Kingdom. Now the outfield lies covered in a 100 tons of rubble swept down by floodwater. The club's chairman Richard Allen does not expect the pitch to be useable for the entire 2013 season.
After the same board meeting the ECB announced an £18 million programme of investment into first class county cricket. The Board agreed to make loan finance of up to £1 million available to each of the 18 first class counties following receipt of detailed business plans, which must first be approved by both the ECB finance committee and the ECB board.
This week loan facilities were confirmed for 13 counties – Glamorgan, Gloucestershire, Hampshire, Kent, Leicestershire, Lancashire, Middlesex, Northamptonshire, Somerset, Surrey, Warwickshire, Worcestershire and Yorkshire. Business plans are expected from the other five later this year.
An ECB statement said: "These loans form part of a wider business transformation plan for the domestic game. which is being overseen by the ECB’s new Professional Game department. The loans have been approved in return for meeting key strategic targets relating to stadia and facilities, customer relations, community programmes and business operations.*
The loans will supplement the annual fee payments made to the 18 counties. Last year total expenditure on the domestic game reached £49.1 million, with £42.6 million as fee payments to the first class counties. The ECB chairman Giles Clarke said: "With all sports facing increased competition for resources in a tougher economic climate, it is imperative that our first class county clubs are financially robust, boast modern, spectator-friendly facilities and can continue to act as centres of sporting excellence within their local communities."