YORKSHIRE chief executive Mark Arthur last night revealed that the club will clear the majority of their £25m debt on the back of the major matches they have been awarded for the years 2020-2024, including the “jewel in the crown” of an Ashes Test in 2023.
Arthur said that the allocation of three Tests, a one-day international and six T20 internationals during the five-year cycle, along with Emerald Headingley being named as one of eight host venues for the new T20 franchise tournament starting in 2020, “completely underpins and more” the club’s financial forecasts for the next six years, with the Ashes Test alone worth up to £5m.
The England and Wales Cricket Board also awarded Headingley a mouthwatering Test against world No 1 side India in 2021, plus a Test against New Zealand in 2022, when announcing last night the latest batch of international games.
Arthur described Yorkshire’s allocation as “an outstanding result and the best we could have hoped for”, with the club particularly elated to be chosen – in the face of intense competition – as one of the five Ashes venues along with Lord’s, The Oval, Edgbaston and Old Trafford, the same grounds that had previously been selected to stage next year’s Test series against Australia.
Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, a jubilant Arthur said: “We had hoped for a good share of things, but this is a brilliant programme of cricket for us and also a massive boost financially, as it means that we will be able to pay off the majority of our debt by the end of 2024.
“The Ashes Test is very much the jewel in the crown – and worth up to £5m alone – but we’re absolutely thrilled with the entire programme, which is fantastic news for everyone who’s got an interest in cricket in this region, and a vindication of all the hard work that everyone has put in – from the volunteers in the recreational game all the way to the Yorkshire board.
We’ve been working closely with the ECB, not just on international programmes but also on the development of the game as a wholeMark Arthur
“Everybody has played their part in changing the perception of Emerald Headingley as a cricket ground in recent years, and they can all share in this award of matches that we’ve been given.
“It’s also a big boost to the local economy and a package of events that recognises all the hard work that we do in Yorkshire on behalf of the game of cricket.”
Arthur described the award of an Ashes Test as “immeasurable”, with Yorkshire officials having perhaps privately feared the worst after The Times last week suggested that they were going to be pipped to that prize by the Ageas Bowl.
Instead, the ECB have given Arthur and co a clear vote of confidence in the face of changing times at Headingley, with a new main stand set for completion next year and the club having made great strides forward on-and-off the field in recent years.
“We’ve been working closely with the ECB, not just on international programmes but also on the development of the game as a whole,” added Arthur.
“We’ve followed Cricket Unleashed (the ECB’s strategy to grow the game at every level) and have engaged with many new areas of the demographic. That’s obviously been recognised by the ECB, and they see all the diversity work that we’ve done, the engagement programme that we have with the many cricket clubs here in Yorkshire, and that we act and operate as a united force for the county of Yorkshire as a whole.
“The ECB made it absolutely clear, when the counties bid for this next round of international games, that it was going to be about overall commitment and contribution to the game of cricket, and I think that we’ve scored very highly on the recreational game and also the work we do in the community – just every facet, really.”
Arthur believes the ECB’s support will only expedite Yorkshire’s stated ambition to become one of the top-four international grounds in the country, a target which, not so very long ago, might have seemed fanciful.
But Arthur’s arrival in 2013, allied to the efforts of chairman Steve Denison and the Yorkshire board per se, has ignited the club off the field as surely as two County Championship titles and a couple of near misses have done so on the pitch.
The next round of international games will see Lord’s continue to stage two Tests per summer, while Edgbaston has been confirmed as the exclusive home of T20 Finals Day.
Trent Bridge – overlooked for an Ashes Test – had its disappointment soothed slightly by the news that it will replace Lord’s as the new home for the final of the county 50-over tournament from 2020 onwards.