Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Cricket club counts cost of regatta cancellation

Cricket club counts cost of regatta cancellation

HENLEY Cricket Club says it will lose around half of its annual income following the decision to cancel this year’s Henley Royal Regatta.

The club uses its ground in Matson Drive for car parking during the five-day regatta, earning it more than £35,000 a year.

The rest of the club’s finances come from fundraising activities, such as its summer ball and sporting dinners.

Chairman Brian Kenworthy said he hoped the club could withstand the loss of revenue caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

He said: “The cars have parked on the cricket ground during regatta since before the early Eighties. The revenue that is generated is an important contributor towards the costs of running the club.

“When you take that money away, the club will have a shortfall of income compared with expenditure this year. Even if we play no cricket, we have fixed costs for running and maintaining the pavilion and the ground. You have to maintain the square so that when you return to playing it performs in the right way.

“There is a lot more work that goes into preparing and maintaining a cricket square than a football or rugby pitch and we might be fortunate enough to play later in the year. We also have to think about next year.”

Mr Kenworthy, who has been chairman for eight years, said the club would have to use its reserves.

He said: “We have a few thousand pounds but we have still got to pay for insurance, utilities and caring for the ground. We have got to pay for cricket balls for this season because they were ordered before the season started and the bill for that is £2,000.

“We have been very fortunate to have support from Henley Town Council with grants. We have also had grants from South Oxfordshire District Council historically. We are doing everything we can to reduce expenditure with the hope of seeing us through.”

The regatta organisers took the decision to postpone the event, which was due to take place from July 1 to 5, in March.

Mr Kenworthy, who runs his own corporate events business, said: “It impacts the club heavily but we fully understand why it has been cancelled.

“I am sure we will be back. Rather than having money to invest in coaching and development if that money is not there, it might reduce what we can do in that regard.

“We try to maintain a surplus to grow the game within the community. We do plan to have some fundraising events at the end of the year, if the lockdown has been relaxed, to boost the coffers. Cricket is a great game that welcomes everybody — from elite to social players — and welcomes all genders. You make great friendships with teammates and we are part of the social fabric of the community.

“For the good of the game we want all clubs to survive. The biggest issue is maintaining the pavilion and the ground.”

The club borrowed £200,000 from Henley Town Council to buy the ground from Brakspear in 2005 and gradually repaid the loan until October 2018.

The club originally had two years left to run on its lease when Brakspear gave it the option to sign a new 30-year lease on the ground, or to buy it for £440,000.

The club chose the latter and spent another £30,000 on legal fees. It received grants and donations totalling £270,000, but needed the loan from the council to secure the deal.

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