ECB plans layoffs as Covid-19 continues to bite; Seven makes 'final' 2020 payment to CA
The England and Wales Cricket Board is cutting 20 per cent of its total workforce budget in an attempt to cope with the financial impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
The ECB announced today that in order to deal with the effects of England and domestic cricket matches being played behind closed doors this summer, and costs brought on by the pandemic, the organisation will cut the budget by 20 per cent, which in personnel terms equates to 62 roles being removed, mostly through redundancies.
The ECB has said that every department will be affected, and that the redundancies are the only way to “reduce central costs without compromising on our ambitions."
In announcing the job cuts, Tom Harrison, the ECB’s chief executive, said: “The game has already lost more than £100 million ($129 million), and the financial impact [of the pandemic] is likely to be £200 million if there is further disruption next year, which many are expecting."
The staff have now been informed, and the ECB will also make several roles part-time and encourage flexible working in order to further offset costs.
Harrison added: “Given this new reality, if we are to safeguard cricket’s long-term future… it is clear the ECB will need to become a leaner and more agile organisation.”
He said: “When the crisis first hit, the ECB put in place a range of measures to save money in the short term, including furloughing staff and significant pay reductions across the organisation. It is now an irrefutable fact however that the impact of this pandemic is significant, and will be long-lasting.
“There is also deep uncertainty about the future financial sustainability of cricket in England and Wales. We must reduce the cost base across the game - and that requires the ECB to lead the way by reducing its own cost base.”
Last week, Ian Watmore, the ECB’s new chairman, warned of significant financial repercussions if the 2021 season is impacted by Covid-19.
Watmore, who has succeeded Colin Graves, said the ECB would be left facing “very severe cash constraints and a game in crisis.”
While England fixtures have gone ahead this summer, these have had to be played behind closed doors, as have a large majority of domestic county matches.
In addition, the debut season of The Hundred, the new short-form competition featuring eight city-based teams and scheduled to launch in July this year, has been put back to 2021.
Elsewhere, Seven Network, the Australian commercial broadcaster, has paid Cricket Australia a tranche of the initial rights fee that it owes the governing body for covering the sport in the upcoming Australian summer, but has said this will be its final payment this year.
In a statement earlier today, the broadcaster said it had paid the governing body a portion of the A$25 million ($18.3 million) rights payment.
James Warburton, the chief executive of Seven West Media, said: “Seven has paid the first instalment reflecting our assessment of fair value.”
Seven’s total rights fee for the upcoming Australian summer of cricket - which the network shares with pay-television’s Foxtel - comes to between A$75 million and A$80 million, and this was due to be paid in three instalments, with the next one due on 15 December.
However, according to reports, Seven has now told CA that it does not plan on making either of the next two payments.
The dispute stems from objections Seven has repeatedly made in recent weeks and months regarding the summer schedule.
The broadcaster’s main issue is that the Big Bash League, the Australian domestic Twenty20 competition, looks set to be a diminished affair because, in light of restrictions put in place amid the coronavirus pandemic, the top stars will be absent in international player hubs.
As well as this, it has been reported that Seven believes CA has bowed to the demands of the away board in drawing up the schedule for the high-profile visit of India.
Last week, Seven’s parent company Seven West Media, which has a six-year deal to show Australia international and domestic matches worth A$450 million until 2024, sent an official notice to CA, objecting to the schedule.
CA’s domestic agreements with Foxtel and Seven are worth A$1.18 billion over the six years.
Meanwhile, Cricket West Indies has extended its worldwide partnership with international betting operator Betway until 2022.
Betway will continue as CWI’s betting partner for the next two years, and will have a visible presence at all international home matches, across both TV broadcast and on the ground itself.
CWI and Betway first partnered in June 2018, in a deal which ran to January of this year when the last West Indies home series took place.
SASCOC had primarily been angered by CSA’s refusal to share a report which had formed the basis for Thabang Moroe, CSA’s then chief executive, being sacked last December.
In a statement today, CSA said: “The meeting [with SASCOC] presented a step forward towards a collaborative approach in the interest of good governance and executive operations."
Ravi Govender, SASCOC’s acting chief executive, said that his body had “identified one or two things that need to be put in place.”
Govender added that more details of the meeting would be disclosed later this week.