No Ashes on Sky means no money for English cricket

This seems to be the crisis facing the ECB as it seems increasingly likely that home Ashes series will be shown on free TV from now on.

We’ve a few thoughts about this.

Sponsorship of the England team

If we were sponsoring England, we’d pay more if we thought four times as many people were watching. This could offset a fraction of the losses.

The ECB are playing the grassroots card

They’re saying that 23,000 coaches will be put out of work if they can’t sell the Ashes TV rights to Sky. Why does the money have to come out of grassroots cricket? Why can’t it come from the counties? (Because the counties run the game, but they shouldn’t.)

Some counties could go to the wall

A lot of the counties only survive because of ECB handouts. Frankly, if they need a £1.5 million gift to stay afloat, fuck ’em.

And yes, we would still feel the same if one of those counties was Lancashire. The England team comes first by a long way.

If the breeding ground that is county cricket would be even slightly worse for the loss of half a dozen counties, we might think differently. But actually, it would work far better.

  • More concentrated talent = good
  • Fewer fixtures = good

So take the money off the counties and keep the grassroots the same. With the Ashes on normal TV, more people would take up the sport. You’d be throwing more people at the same grassroots system and only the most talented and determined would get to play for the few counties that remained.

England then pick the best of those. How many fully professional cricketers does the nation honestly need?

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16 Appeals

  1. Nice post, KC. I’ve just been reading only the ‘for’ side of the argument all these days….actually, I’m thinking less funding is good for English cricket…

    Besides, what’s the point in having the money when you don’t have the kids???

  2. Just greed as usual on the part of the same administrators that flog our players into the ground.

    If they had left an affordable package for ‘free-to-air’ TV to bid for in the last contract negotiations instead of going for the all out greed – sod the public option with Sky then none of this would have happened.

    They shouldn’t be relying on Sky to bankroll them anyway, what kind of professional body relys on one source of income.

    If they want to play the ‘grass roots cricket will suffer card’ then are they saying that they will pull the plug on a fundamental basis of their future success, I hardly think even Giles Clarke is that stupid. But then who knows.

    Also the counties survived long before Sky’s money came along and with better managed they would surely be able to survive on a lesser hand out.

    Not blaming Sky as think they have done a good job for English cricket, also think it would be wrong to take Ashes home test off them.

    What I do believe though is that a deal should be done for some cricket to be on terrestrial TV and have a better balance with more exposure to the majority of the viewing public.

  3. Why would more people take up the game? It would only be on every four years,

    It wouldn’t affect anything if it wasn’t under their noses regularly.

  4. King Cricket

    November 13, 2009 at 11:41 am

    As far as the nation’s concerned, cricket in England only happens once every four years. More people take up the game during an Ashes summer than in the previous three years combined.

    We’ve actually invented the above ‘fact’ but we wouldn’t be remotely surprised if that were actually the case.

  5. Well it works for Wimbledon, when tennis only happens for two weeks every year. I mean look at the quality that grassroots tennis produces. So it coould translate to cricket.

    Oh, hang on….

  6. Spot on, King. The removal of Tests from the protected events list summed up the complete failure of the administrators to capitalise on the brilliant 2005 series. What makes the national team better and the sport healthier, in the long term, is more kids playing the game and more prospects for the professional teams to pick from. That only happens when large numbers of people start watching.

    On a minor point, one way of the counties saving themselves would be to boost their pathetic attendance figures, and some prominent cricket on free-to-air TV can’t hurt in that respect.

  7. Excellent post

    Losing 10 irrelevant counties and strengthening grassroots would be a massive boost for the test game

  8. Does anyone think this may all be happening because Murdoch threw his lot in with the Tories?

    Sports get sold off to Sky when Murdoch supports the government and protected when he supports the opposition.

    Or as Malcolm Tucker would put it:

    ‘Support us or I’ll make it so every English cricket loving t**t can watch your lot lose the Ashes again you Aussie c**t!’

  9. MIM –

    That theory makes a decent story for the papers but it’s not really true. The Davies report, which is recommending this move, was written by a committee of sports specialists, independent from the government. In any case, the review was ordered by the DCMS more than a year ago, long before Murdoch made his switch to the Tories.

    This is just a rare bit of luck for poor old Gordon, having this report published just when he was getting upset with News International for all that misspelt letter hoo-ha…

  10. “Sports Specialist” Eamonn Holmes?

  11. Does it really take a committee of sports specialists to decide that it is a good idea to increase the audience for a sporting event from 2m to 7m?

    Not that I have any particular political cross to grind on my shoulder over this…

    I vote Lib Dem and if they had their way LBW decisions would be made single transferable vote….

  12. Downing Street have been putting pressure on David Davies to make this announcement because it’ll give the government a cheap vote-boost in middle England. That ‘fact’ came from a Tory MP – so make of it what you will.

    Generalist – the TV rights were sold off to Sky BEFORE the 2005 Ashes. The ECB failed to capitalise on that euphoria even before there was any euphoria. In fact, they sold the TV rights at the point that England had its best team since 1954… Clever thinking…

  13. Oops. You’re absolutely right.

    Well, I suppose we all agree on the main thing: the ECB wants to maximise its short term income but in doing so it really misses the point.

  14. ‘Support us or I’ll make it so every English cricket loving t**t can watch your lot lose the Ashes again you Aussie c**t!

    That should be – ‘Support us or I’ll make it so every English cricket loving t**t can watch the Aussies lose the Ashes again you American c**t!”

    And Russell Crowe is a Kiwi, we don’t want him either.

  15. Great post King – I had resisted the lure of Sky since 2005, but capitulated this year as I couldn’t bear not to see the Ashes live.

    It’s also very short sighted of the ECB not to worry about the profile of the game among the wider population – my children are force-fed cricket, but a quick straw poll amongst their friends after the Ashes victory revealed that hardly any of them could name a current England player. With the retirement of Flintoff that’s going to get worse.

  16. stephen decaston

    November 25, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    The ECB grassroots issue is total cods wallop. read the attached article.
    all the sky money does is line pockets and prop up the counties

    http://www.cricinfo.com/magazine/content/story/436332.html

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