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ECB CEO Tom Harrison states: We're looking at the most significant financial crisis in ECB history - We ask: Was Cricket properly Insured?

Royal London One Day Cup Final - Hampshire v Somerset - Lord's Cricket Ground 2019
©Reuters
 

Following the ECB AGM on June 2nd and CEO Tom Harrison's recent comments on the BBC's Tuffers and Vaughan Show on Monday this week – one has to ask - Why were the ECB, the 18 First Class Counties, the MCC and recreational cricket clubs ( through preferred ECB insurance cover) not Insured properly for business interruption due to a pandemic?

Harrison continued on the show: “The reality is we're facing a very uphill challenge, not just in this country but I think globally - Cricket's got to try and find a way to navigate through this Covid crisis.

"The reality is most of our counties rely on match-day funding to help their businesses survive and grow. And so, the reality is we're looking at the most significant financial crisis in ECB history, and that is not an exaggeration. No question about that, we're going to be facing and dealing with this for a few years."

"We are a sport that survives on media rights revenues. That doesn't just fund the game at international level, it funds it at all levels, right away through in the ECB's case to grassroots cricket, All Stars Cricket, club cricket. All of that is part-funded by what we're able to get from our media rights value.”

The ECB AGM shows a record turnover of £228million and the special fee distributions paid to each of the First-Class Counties in respect of ICC Men’s CWC19 and with additional distributions also including a £3million distribution to the Team England Player Partnership (TEPP) and a £15.7million donation to the England and Wales Cricket Trust (EWCT), it would cushion the immediate financial crisis somewhat, however, if Cricket, in general, had been properly insured, it would still be facing challenges, and an uncertain future, but they certainly would not be in the crisis that they are in now.

The MCC is facing a similar financial crisis with loss of revenues and it appears that the ECB, the 18 First Class Counties, the MCC and recreational cricket clubs ( through preferred ECB broker insurance cover) were not properly Insured for business interruption and, in the case of recreational cricket, there are only 350 clubs, throughout the UK, (around 5%) that have the chance of recovery of their business interruption claims via their Hiscox policies (through Aston Lark), where all others (including Allianz via MW, Aviva, Zurich, NIG, RSA) have said “No cover” from the start.

Without the Government intervention (inc ‘furlough’ and ‘grant’ funding) Cricket, in the UK ,would (and still could) be decimated in the ‘professional’ game, with the recreational game (although largely protected financially by government intervention) left struggling to create engagement for future generations.

So, was Cricket properly insured and fit for purpose?

At the beginning of the pandemic, there were headlines in the press like link How Wimbledon and the ECB saved millions with ‘pandemic insurance’ while other events face ruin – however, since then, all has been quiet, at the ECB, on the extent of this cover and it is not clear what or if there will be any pay outs for pandemic insurance business interruption or losses other than apparently for advanced tickets sales confirmed at their virtual AGM on June 2nd……

Because of the very nature of cricket and tennis events being subject to the weather, their sporting insurance has always been complex, but we understand from various published Accounts (from these cricket organisations) that the ECB, the 18 First Class Counties and the MCC (with its world class venue – Lord’s) apparently set up their own ‘captive’ insurance (Reign Dei Ltd – Guernsey), under advisement, which did not adequately cover for such business interruption eventualities such as pandemic insurance - Unlike Wimbledon’s All England Club risk and finance sub-committee which insisted on getting epidemics coverage some years ago, paving the way for their hefty £100 Million + Insurance payout for the cancellation of the 2020 Tournament – Cricket is seemingly left with some payouts for lost revenues for some ticket sales,bar and catering (?) and rushing around trying to get the International cricket schedule of matches played to save paying back the contracted broadcast revenues…. and what about the enormous revenues generated from hospitality and events at the First Class County venues?

One would also have to ask who agreed and led the advice on setting up an offshore  ‘captive’ insurance company (Reign Dei Ltd Guernsey) and how was this sold to the MCC, the 18 first Class Counties and the MCCA?

The fundamental principal and duty of all administrators of businesses, organisations and committees is to ensure that their organisations are run in accordance with good practice and have all protocols, governance and appropriate insurance cover (in any eventuality) for staging world class and professional sporting and hospitality events . The Risk and Finance advisors and ultimately the Boards and Committees of each and every organisation in cricket are potentially responsible and culpable for the deepness of this crisis.

So, other sports have had their focus on the whole event cancellation risk and insure, in the Lloyds Market, so that they can get cover for not only adverse weather, but catastrophe non-appearance and Communicable Diseases. Certainly Wimbledon, the Grand National and the Ryder Cup have been insured on this basis – as have the Euros and the Olympic Games.

‘Cricket’ through the ECB has seemingly focussed on its own form of ‘insurance cover’ through an offshore captive insurance company to insure first their weather day ticket refund risks (ODIs, T20s & days 1- 4 of Test matches), and then seemingly opened it out to the MCC, the 18 first class counties and the MCCA (Minor Counties Cricket Association) to increase their premium base over the years - See - ECB Annual Reports and Financial Statements 2018/19   Financial Statements  and   Annual Report ( p. 36 - Premiums payable by ECB to Reigndei Limited, an insurance company beneficially owned by the eighteen first class counties, MCC and the MCCA – ECB Accounts 2018/19)

Every County Cricket Club member, MCC member and cricket fan needs to know if these organisations did have the adequate insurance cover, that any compliant corporate governance would deem necessary, for a national governing body of a sport (ECB), a world class sporting and hospitality venue (MCC/Lord’s) and the 18 First Class Counties …..

Was Cricket, in the UK, properly insured and fit for purpose?.....

©Cricket World 2020

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