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Last Updated: Thursday, 13 December 2007, 17:59 GMT
Irish cricket suffers cash crisis
Trent Johnston
Trent Johnston and his team-mates starred in the World Cup
Irish cricket is virtually broke despite the country's sensational performances in this year's World Cup, BBC Northern Ireland has learned.

It has emerged that the Irish cricket Union (ICU) needed a grant of almost 250,000 from the Irish Sports Council to keep its head above water.

The ICU was also bailed out by a recent grant of almost 50,000 from the International Cricket Council.

The ICU made a loss from the World Cup despite the team's achievements.

Ireland reached the second phase of the tournament after they beat Pakistan and drew with Zimbabwe in what was their first World Cup appearance.

Exact figures won't be made public until the ICU's AGM in February but officials acknowledge that the Irish governing body suffered a financial hit as a result of the country's longer-than-expected stay in the Caribbean.

There have been a series of problems since the team returned from the World Cup in April.

These range from unpaid match fees to a delay in the players getting their World Cup money. Small crowds for the one-day matches against South Africa and India in Belfast last summer have done little to boost finances.

Ireland played nine Friends Provident Trophy and five international games after the World Cup.

The players did not receive match fees (around 100 per player per game) for any of those games.

606: DEBATE

The Ireland squad refused to talk to the media after their win over the Netherlands in June in protest at the delay in getting their World Cup money.

They eventually got their World Cup fees but the affair was a public relations embarrassment for the ICU.

Over-priced tickets and having club fixtures clash with the international matches have been acknowledged as big mistakes.

Another massive blow was Bank of Ireland's decision in early October to end their sponsorship deal with Irish cricket.

That contract was understood to be worth around 50,000 per annum and the ICU is still looking for another sponsor.

ICU chief executive Warren Deutrom acknowledged that 2007 has been "an exceptionally difficult year for Irish cricket".

"Are we broke? We'll break even at the end of this year. If we have to bring over a loss into 2008, we may have to do that," added the ICU chief.

Deutrom added that the ICU had been grateful for the "terrific" support financial from the Irish Sports Council and the ICC.

After the World Cup, we unfortunately sort of missed the boat in terms of getting the commercial interests

Ireland captain Trent Johnston

"The Irish Sports Council helped us both in tangible and intangible ways in 2007. The ICC have also heard our arguments."

Ireland captain Trent Johnston told the BBC that "it's a tough time for Irish cricket".

"Coming back after the World Cup, we unfortunately sort of missed the boat in terms of getting the commercial interests."

The skipper added that he was "worried" by Irish cricket's financial problems.

"The squad is so professional but unfortunately off the field, it's difficult for the administrators to take it to that professional level as well.

"They are trying all they can but without the money coming in, it's very tough."

Deutrom acknowledged that the ICU's financial difficulties means that there is "no prospect" of professional contracts being offered to Ireland players in 2008.

Ireland are scheduled to have 33 games next year, including Friends Provident Cup fixtures.



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