An open letter from CEO Gordon Hollins
I do hope that you and your loved ones are healthy and coping with the exceptional circumstances we are all continuing to experience.
Given the rapid pace at which the landscape is changing, I thought it was important for me to again provide an update on the impact of COVID-19 on cricket, your Club and the 2020 season. Since my previous letter, the ECB has announced the following measures in relation to the cricket season:
- Professional cricket will not be played in England & Wales prior to 1st July 2020.
- Nine rounds of County Championship fixtures will be lost this season but ‘blocks’ of red and white ball cricket will be included in a revised schedule.
- The Vitality Blast will be scheduled for as late in the season as possible to give it the best opportunity to be staged.
- Men’s and women’s international cricket will be re-scheduled to take place between July and the end of September.
- An announcement on The Hundred will be communicated imminently.
- The suspension of recreational cricket will continue until further notice.
I am very conscious that these changes will disappoint you and the entire Somerset cricket family. Our wonderful game is an important part of so many lives across the South West and Somerset CCC has been at the heart of that since 1875. Cricket brings people together, is responsible for the creation of numerous friendships and brings great joy to those who play, attend and follow the game. The social impact of ‘life without cricket’ is important to us all.
Whilst we are all disappointed, cricket is of course only a small part of a much bigger picture. The Club’s priority is to protect the wellbeing of its staff, Members, Commercial Partners and the guests who utilise its facilities. It is for that reason that it was decided to close the Cooper Associates County Ground towards the end of March.
The full extent to which our Club is financially impacted by this crisis cannot be assessed accurately until we know what cricket is to be played during the season and the subsequent effect this has on income. I do know however that the impact will be significant. Our Club generates much of its income from the type of mass gatherings that the government’s ‘social distancing’ measures prevent from happening.
Our income streams have therefore all but shut down since the middle of March. By way of example, the temporary closure of the Conference & Events business costs the Club in the region of £75,000 per month, whilst match day tickets which were projected to generate £600,000 this year, are no longer being sold. The ECB provided four months of central funding fee payments in advance in early April but it should be noted that while this was very helpful in allowing us time to make some adjustments, there is no guarantee of the Club receiving any future payments at this stage.
To reduce costs during this challenging period decisive action was taken at the beginning of April to ‘furlough’ 67 of the 76 members of the Club’s staff. This included staff from every part of the Club’s operation including players and cricket support personnel. We have also furloughed a large portion of our casual match day workforce such as our catering assistants and safety stewards. I am very grateful to all Management and staff who without exception, have agreed to accept a short-term reduction in their remuneration regardless of whether they are working or furloughed. This arrangement will be regularly reviewed as more information becomes available and the financial impact becomes clearer.
I am extremely grateful to you for your patience and understanding of the Club’s position. Prior to starting in post (six weeks ago at the time of writing) I was told of the tremendous support Somerset have. I am delighted to have witnessed first-hand the extent of that as supporters and Commercial Partners have rallied behind the game and the Club in its hour of need.
A key project for my Management Team over the coming weeks will be to develop ways in which the Club can recognise the loyalty of its Members during this period. Members are the heart of Somerset CCC and your support of us as a Club is needed more than ever right now. We will therefore do all we can to demonstrate our appreciation for this support in an appropriate way that allows the Club to operate sustainably going forward.
Whilst the content of this letter primarily relates to the impact of COVID-19 on Somerset CCC, I believe it is important for the Club to support the recreational game which is also experiencing many challenges. We are developing online content which local cricketers and club volunteers can engage with and learn from. Please do keep an eye on our website if this is of interest to you.
It is also important for the Club to support the wider community, the NHS and Musgrove Park Hospital, in particular. I am pleased to share the winning shirt design from a recent competition run via our website with our junior supporters. This shirt will form part of a Club-wide volunteering and fundraising campaign with the view that our playing squad will either play or train in these shirts being signed by the squad and auctioned for these charities. A limited number of these shirts are also available for pre-order on our website, with 100% of profits made also being donated to these charities. For more information or pre-order your shirt, please click here.
I am in discussions with Somerset West & Taunton Council about how we can use the Club’s resources to help vulnerable people in the area and I will keep you updated on progress.
I hope that you have found this letter informative. I will continue to communicate with you as best I can in such a rapidly changing environment, through regular video interviews which will be emailed to you, placed on the Club website and distributed through social media channels such as Facebook and Twitter. We will also share news through our local press and media.
If you do not currently receive email communication from the Club, please do sign up via the homepage of this website and you will be included on future distribution lists. This is also helpful to the Club as it is a very cost-effective way in which to communicate.
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and thank you again for your support. Please do stay safe.
Chief ExecutiveBack to News