ECB announces financial aid following coronavirus crisis

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London, April 1 (IANS) The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has announced a financial aid package worth 61 million pounds to help cricket in the country withstand the impact of coronavirus pandemic.

The ECB has already ruled out any cricket being played until at least May 28 and they are working on scenarios for beginning the season in June, July or August as well as modelling out the impacts of a season where no cricket is played at all.

The initial financial package includes expediated payment of 40 million pounds worth of planned budget distributions to the first-class counties and the county cricket boards. This money, which was set to be paid out over the course of the 2020/21 budget cycle, will now be paid out immediately to assist clubs with cash flow and revenue issues caused by the current crisis.

Further 5.5 million pounds will be paid to counties who were not eligible for the facilities maintenance distributions during the 2020/21 cycle, said the ECB.

In addition, the staging fees for international games, paid to the ECB by those counties which host England matches, have been suspended for four months and those payable in 2020 will be waived if the game is not played as scheduled because of coronavirus outbreak.

The plans detail a number of measures for the whole sport from elite to grassroots, including the MCC, the First-Class Counties (FCCs) and their County Cricket Boards (CCBs).

Local cricket clubs will also be offered support to see them through the coming months.

The package also contains support for the recreational game to the tune of 20 million pounds. A cricket club support loan scheme will be set up by the board, there will be grants through the “Return to Cricket” scheme and a 12-month loan repayment holiday for recreational clubs will be implemented.

Tom Harrison, chief executive officer of the ECB, said: “We understand these are challenging times and it has been our priority to provide swift and immediate support to all members of the cricket family at every level in England and Wales.

“We are fully aware that the situation with COVID-19 will continue to develop, and it will be months before the full financial fallout is made clear. We will continue work with all of our partners to protect the ongoing health of the entire game in the short term and beyond,” he added.