Update from CEO and Chairman
17 June 2020
It has been an extraordinary couple of weeks for the Club and many individuals around it. There has been much excitement around the England call-ups for James Bracey and Richard Dawson, much debate around the county cricket schedule for 2020 and also time for reflection as we bade farewell to Tony Brown whose funeral was held last week. Tony will always be an iconic figure in the life of our Club and was a truly inspirational leader both on and off the field.
Regrettably with the current coronavirus restrictions only close family members could attend the funeral. Some ex-players, staff and supporters chose to line some of the roads around the crematorium in order to say goodbye to one of our greatest players, a tribute we’re sure Tony would have appreciated. Whilst it is a terrible shame that this evil virus prevented so many of us in joining them it gives us even greater impetus, with Tony’s family’s blessing, to come together to celebrate Tony’s life in an event at the County Ground in the future and when it is safe to do so.
One of the more regular visitors to the ground of late has been James Bracey as he continues his return to cricket as part of the wider England Men’s training group, ably supported by Richard Dawson and David Bartlett. It has been fantastic to have a player back in the nets and we are absolutely delighted that both he and Richard have been selected to go into “Behind Closed Doors” training with the England test squad. We know both James and Richard have a bright future ahead of them with England as player and coach respectively and we wish them all the very best for the summer.
There has been much speculation in the cricket press of late about what the cricket season might look like and which County favours what option. Both of us and Richard Dawson have been engaging with the ECB and other Counties on this for a number of weeks in constructive debates and we thought it would be appropriate to share our thoughts with you all.
We are absolutely committed to playing domestic cricket this year; it is, ultimately, the reason we are all here and we are working hard to achieve that. To that end we will be bringing players back to training at the beginning of July under the supervision of Ian Harvey in order to be ready for the cricket we hope will be played in August. In the debates that are currently raging on this subject there are many things to consider but for us our primary consideration will always be the welfare and safety of our players and support staff as they return to cricket. This eclipses financial, strategic or any other concerns and will continue to be the main measure by which we will review all options. Each different format of cricket brings its own challenges and opportunities but there is, in our mind, currently an increased safety risk to any format where we are asking players to go on the road away from families and staying in hotels, potentially less than a month since they have opened up with new rules and restrictions. This does not mean we are opposed to longer form cricket, far from it, we just want to ensure that over the next few days and weeks we can work constructively with our colleagues across the country to make all formats equally safe for those playing and supporting the game. We will of course provide updates as decisions are made and we have more clarity on what the season will entail.
As many of you know we had planned to formally unify Gloucestershire Cricket and the Gloucestershire Cricket Board. There are other priorities now with the key one for Gloucestershire Cricket being to do what we can to play cricket this year and plan for the shape of cricket in the future. We remain committed as a Club, however, to supporting the recreational game in any way we can as it has such a key role within the cricket family and we will maintain the closest possible partnership with the Gloucestershire Cricket Board. We’d like to thank Steve Silk, GCB Chief Executive for all his hard work in assisting the Club over the last 15 months. Steve is continuing his fantastic work at the GCB in supporting the recreational game.
Everyone at the Club has been humbled by the response we have had from our Members, be they ‘Annual’ or Life and Honorary Members, following the recent launch of our “Donate Your Membership” campaign. We are very grateful to the 445 (and counting) Annual Members who have so kindly donated their 2020 subscription to the Club, and to those Life and Honorary Members who have contacted us to make a further contribution to the Club. This enables us to plan with greater certainty and security into the future, and also to help us build and refurbish parts of the Ground that have a strong Member-focus. The one-off “Anniversary Member” category for 2021, for all those that have donated, will stand as a testament to the depth of feeling and association so many of you have for this great Club – and we very much look forward to celebrating our 150th milestone with you all at the appropriate time.
The County ground is looking fantastic at present as under the guidance of our Operations Director, Piero Stobbia, we ready ourselves in the hope of cricket later in the year. It is however also much changed with one-way systems, temperature scanners and endless signage in place to support any visitors to the ground in staying safe.
Finally, at the time of writing we have just received some very welcome news from the ECB which has provided us with greater certainty as to our ECB finances to the end of January 2021. This news along with your kind support means we should be able to not only survive this crisis but also not have to give up on our hopes and plans for the immediate future. The longer term, however, remains a significant challenge as outlined by Tom Harrison, Chief Executive of the ECB in a press release of earlier today:
“We continue to work closely with all levels of the game to understand the challenges that are being presented and to map out a plan for the future. While I am pleased the ECB Board has been able to approve this financial support package for the remainder of this year we are still only at the beginning of addressing the impact of this crisis on cricket.
We still should not underestimate the significant financial burden that is ahead of us across all levels of the game.
We must seek to reduce the cost base across the game, as we face up to the sobering reality of what lies ahead of us.” – Tom Harrison, ECB Chief Executive
“Significant” challenges clearly lie ahead but we have met them many times before in our 150 years and we will meet them again with the same fight and determination.
With best wishes,
John and Will