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Page last updated at 15:52 GMT, Wednesday, 6 October 2010 16:52 UK

Middlesex chief warns of financial woes for counties

By Kevin Hand

Vinny Codrington
Codrington is concerned that player wages have gone too far

A county cricket club could go bust unless the game starts to get its finances in order, Middlesex chief executive Vinny Codrington has warned.

The Lord's-based county are in line to record a third successive year of losses, but claim not to be in danger.

Codrington told BBC London 94.9: "We are heading towards a precipice of a county going out of business.

"Unless the counties look after their business it could happen, and it would be tragic and very sad for the game."

He added: "Finances are difficult, they are for most of us in cricket at the moment, we've long said that there's an issue over players' salaries. We've got to be very careful that we don't go down the route of what's happened in other sports.

"We've [Middlesex] lost some money this year and we'll lose a bit of money next year. We'll have to try and redress that over the next couple of years, and we're pretty confident that we can do so.

"You need to keep your cost base down and your cost base is on salaries. In our case Marylebone Cricket Club own Lord's, which means our ability to raise revenue is more limited than a lot of other places.

"So we need to make sure the cost base for players remains at a sustainable rate. We've done a pretty good job about that, and though it's not ideal, it's not catastrophic as far as we're concerned."

Several counties have announced huge losses in recent years, but Codrington says it is not solely down to wages, and that ambitious ground redevelopments are adding substantially to the costs.

"There are more concerns, interestingly enough, with those grounds that are either Test match grounds or aspiring Test match grounds," he said. "The level of investment that they need to put in to make those grounds competitive and win the major match staging process is huge.

We need to make sure that the cost base for players remains at a sustainable rate.

Vinny Codrington

"We've seen a lot of development in a lot of county grounds over the course of the last four or five years. We know about the Oval locally, they've done a fantastic job, but Yorkshire, Lancashire, Warwickshire, Glamorgan, Durham and Kent, amongst others, are all looking to develop their grounds, and Gloucestershire will be the next one.

"They're all looking to develop the grounds and make them a more palatable place to come and watch cricket, but they're all competing in a very competitive market where there is a limited amount of international cricket that can be played at those grounds.

"So there is a lot of pressure on those chief executives and those clubs. As far as we're concerned, we're just happy that we happen to be here and don't have the liabilities that some of them have.

"The recession has not helped anybody and the knock on effects are being felt in county cricket now. If you committed to a multi-million pound project in 2006, and we have a recession when you're a third or two thirds of the way through the project, it's going to be very difficult to know what to do.

"I'm certain that those counties are talking to the ECB about ways that they can manage the amount of difficulty that they've got into."

Whether the financial worries for the counties would lead to the England and Wales Cricket Board being asked to prop up a club remains to be seen, but Codrington says dramatic cost-cutting measures need to be taken by some of the counties.

Codrington said: "I don't know what the latest position of the ECB is - I know that a couple of years ago they were saying that they wouldn't bail out anybody, but whether that's changed now, I don't know.

"I know of one or two counties that are cutting their cloth to suit. Overall they're not asking their directors of cricket to get rid of players specifically, but they're saying: 'You've got £100,000-£150,000 to save next year, don't care how you do it but you've got to do it'.

"If that means that high profile players have got to move on, then that's what the directors of cricket have got to sort out now."

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see also
Cricket club's 9m revamp starts
27 Sep 10 |  Kent
Finance 'hole' after Test match
24 Jul 10 |  England
Lancs post losses of over 500k
04 Jun 10 |  Lancashire
Cricket ground homes plan on hold
08 Apr 10 |  Essex
Essex record six-figure 2009 loss
22 Mar 10 |  Essex
Kent upbeat despite record debts
09 Mar 10 |  Kent
Worcestershire make loss for 2009
22 Jan 10 |  Worcestershire

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