The threat of a reduction in funding must refine the thinking of the ECB with already tight finances | BCE | Local News

The threat of a reduction in funding must refine the thinking of the ECB with already tight finances | BCE

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Back to the mess, then. No, not the Ashes tour. It’s on the other side of the Rubik’s Cube of England and Wales Cricket Board problems.

Six weeks ago, ECB Managing Director Tom Harrison was asked why one of the many people who heard him and his predecessors talk over and over again about their renewed efforts to fight racism in sport should take this latest ECB program seriously. What, exactly, was going to make the new action plan more effective than the Clean Bowl Racism campaign launched by the ECB in 2000? Or the South Asia Action Plan 2018? Why would this step forward for Yorkshire take them further than the club promised when they launched anti-racism projects in 1992, 1999 or 2015?

All Harrison could truly offer was his own opinion. “I know we’re in the dock for words, words, words, blah, blah, blah, no action – that sort of thing,” Harrison said. “What we’re trying to say here is that it’s action-oriented.” Given that the latest round of 12 actions includes a few that he had already pledged the ECB would implement as part of the 11-step program it put in place four years ago, this was not very reassuring. The game has never suffered from a lack of good intentions, just a lack of good results.

Now we have a better answer. The Digital, Culture, Media and Sports Committee’s new report on racism recommends that the government tie any future public funding for the ECB to its tangible progress in tackling racism, and that the select committee help to monitor this progress by asking the ECB to report to it quarterly. Whether these recommendations are actually adopted is another matter, but the report underscored a promise from Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston that the government would “closely monitor the ECB’s progress” and take “further action” if necessary.

It’s true, the ECB has really found itself in a position where it has placed this conservative party in a position of moral authority. Who knew there was high ground in the gutter?

There are flaws in the committee’s plan. The ECB receives around £ 2.5million per year from Sport England. But most of that goes to the development of grassroots cricket, which means the cut in funding would only exacerbate the problems it asks the ECB to fix. But the threat will certainly sharpen his thinking and help hasten some of the counties that pushed back his more sweeping plans to tackle racism at the all-matches reunion last November. Harrison himself said he was frustrated that they couldn’t go any further.

The ECB has also benefited from a lot of bailout money, most recently its share of the £ 300million spent on ‘summer sports’ last year. And a little more control over how it’s used would be good. (You can find a more in-depth review of his accounts, if that interests you, on the Side On View cricket blog).

The latest round of financial statements for 2020-2021 shows the ECB has spent £ 68million on reserves and only has £ 2million left. Most apparently continued to host The Hundred, a tournament that a lot of people who pay to watch the game seem to hate and which, because it took place in midsummer, now appears to be the biggest. obstacle to reorganizing the first class cricket program to better meet the needs of the struggling test team.

Alex Hales of Trent Rockets enters the field of the Oval last summer in The Hundred
Alex Hales of Trent Rockets enters the field of the Oval last summer in The Hundred, a competition the ECB has lavished money on. Photograph: Steven Paston / PA

That £ 68million could have been useful as a rainy day fund had the sport ever faced a crisis beyond its control, like, oh I don’t know, a global pandemic. Instead, the ECB found itself dipping into public money to help it. Of course, he also took his own steps to mitigate the losses. In 2020, he announced that he was making staff cuts. And statements show he has cut the number of development staff by almost a fifth, from 101 to 82. (The base, which would be further threatened by these cuts to Sport England funding, is already suffering).

Oddly, though, the overall roster dropped from 379 to 416. It was because of (yes, you guessed it) The Hundred. It’s not just about hiring players and coaches, it’s also expanding the sales, communications and events team (from 57 to 82). The result is that the ECB’s wage costs actually increased by £ 6.6m in the first year of the pandemic, meaning that wages and salaries currently exceed the total amount (£ 38m sterling) that the ECB spends on basic cricket. Again, much of this increase is due to the hires made for The Hundred. But not at all. Overall board salaries rose 11% and topped £ 1million for the first time. As a footnote in the accounts explains, however, these increasing costs were offset by the leave funds received from HMRC.

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The 11% increase was despite Harrison’s own well-publicized pay cut (from £ 580,000 to £ 512,000). Fortunately for him, it appears that this is also offset by his share of the £ 2.1million ‘long-term incentive plan’, which becomes payable this year ‘provided the employee retains a job on time. full ”on the due date. It’s been widely reported that Harrison will be stepping down at some point over the next few months, which is one of the reasons he’s been able to keep his job during this rolling omnishambles. Does anyone want to bet on which side of the due date they will keep their promise?

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