ECB feared MULTI-MILLION pound losses had England’s Test against South Africa been cancelled


English cricket identified how the death of Her Majesty the Queen would potentially impact the financial stability of the sport several years ago.

The England and Wales Cricket Board have included a period of ‘national mourning’ during the home international season as one of the major risks to its income streams in the strategic reports accompanying recent annual accounts.

It has been listed in the ‘principal risks and uncertainties’ section of the reports as ‘a loss of cricket due to events outside cricket’s control’ along with the threat posed by terrorist attacks.

England and Wales Cricket Board had identified ‘national mourning’ as a potential financial risk

In 2018, when the ECB figures revealed group reserves had plunged from £73.1million to £8.6m over a two-year period, it also added the status of Test cricket to that list as Test matches have long been the vehicle for bankrolling the sport in this country.

The ECB’s insurance does not cover cancellation caused by the death of a monarch, and so multi-million pound losses would have followed had the governing body chosen that course of action for England’s third Test match against South Africa at the Kia Oval.

Twelve months ago, Surrey took in £7.9million in ticket sales for the sold-out Test versus India, and a sum approaching that amount was anticipated for the finale of this year’s LV= Insurance Series, which is currently locked at 1-1. The majority of the money required to be paid back direct in the event of a cancellation would have come directly from cricket’s coffers, as only the first day washout is covered by the insurers.

Postponing the match would arguably have seen it disappear altogether. In contrast to Premier League football fixtures, which can be re-scheduled easily enough at a later date in the season, Test matches are much more difficult to rearrange given their five-day length, aligning with broadcasting schedules and reliance on the compliance of other nations.

Indeed, South Africa did not want to hang around an extra 24 hours to make up the loss of the second day – called off by the ECB as a mark of respect – and with the international season coming to its end on Monday, it would have meant squeezing an extra Test into a 2023 summer which already features a World Test Championship final and full Ashes campaign.

The third Test between England and South Africa ultimately went ahead, with the players observing a minute's silence to commemorate the late monarch

The third Test between England and South Africa ultimately went ahead, with the players observing a minute’s silence to commemorate the late monarch

When India made a premature, Covid-blamed exit from their tour last year, the ECB were forced to shoehorn the missed Manchester match into a space in the calendar that barely existed this July and switch venue to Edgbaston.

So England’s quest to make it six wins from seven Tests resumed yesterday following Friday’s consultation with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport and in line with official national mourning guidance.

Supporters were given the chance to be part of a celebration of Her Majesty’s life that began with a military walk onto the field of play at 10.50am and a guard of honour from both teams in front of the pavilion.

An impeccably-observed minute’s silence was then followed by the singing of both countries’ national anthems, with God Save the King featuring at an international sporting event in this country for the first time since the accession of King Charles III to the throne.

Not all British sports fanatics have been emulate cricket-goers, however, and the Football Supporters’ Association said it has shared a view with the authorities that postponement of Premier League and Football League fixtures this weekend was ‘an opportunity missed for football to pay its own special tributes.’

Football games at all levels were postponed following the news of Her Majesty's death

Football games at all levels were postponed following the news of Her Majesty’s death

The FSA said in a statement: ‘We believe football is at its finest when bringing people together at times of huge national significance – be those moments of joy or moments of mourning.

‘Our view, which we shared with the football authorities, is that most supporters would have liked to go to games this weekend and pay their respect to the Queen alongside their fellow fans.

‘Not everyone will agree, so there was no perfect decision for the football authorities, but many supporters will feel this was an opportunity missed for football to pay its own special tributes.

‘As usual, the Football Supporters’ Association will be collating advice about supporters’ entitlements regarding expenses incurred relating to postponed games this weekend.’

Official mourning guidance, published by the Government on Friday morning, stated there was no obligation on sports organisations to cancel or postpone events.

Savannah Marshall's middleweight title bout against Claressa Shields was also postponed

Savannah Marshall’s middleweight title bout against Claressa Shields was also postponed

As such the Great North Run is on today, following Premiership and Super League games in the rugby codes taking place yesterday and the BMW PGA Championship golf tournament resumed in an abridged form.

The women’s middleweight world title fight between Savannah Marshall and Claressa Shields, scheduled for the O2 Arena in London last night was cancelled due to the British Boxing Board of Control’s blanket decision on weekend bouts.

The remainder of this week’s Tour of Britain has been cancelled, with Friday’s stage six in Gloucestershire, Saturday’s stage seven in Dorset and Sunday’s stage nine on the Isle of Wight no longer taking place.



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