Sussex considering festival cricket future

SUSSEX County Cricket Club chairman Jim May has admitted it is highly likely that only one of the annual festivals will take place in 2016.

Will Beer in action for Sussex in their T20 Blast clash with Surrey at Arundel earlier this year
Will Beer in action for Sussex in their T20 Blast clash with Surrey at Arundel earlier this year

Sussex have played First Class and one-day matches at both Arundel and Horsham for a number of years, but there is a real risk of that not being the case next season.

With concerns raised over a decrease in takings and hospitality this year, Sussex chairman May believes there is a high possibility that only one festival will take place next year.

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He said: “It’s still something that we are discussing.

“We’ve got this dilemma here, on the one hand we would like games outside of Hove but then, on the other, we need to get support there.

“I was looking at the figures recently and our takings at Arundel and Horsham were considerably down last year on the prior year.

“Gate takings were down by 30 per cent, while hospitality wasn’t good at all and, interestingly, the takings at Hove were very much up.

“We had a big increase in T20 crowds and indeed our County Championship gates were also up last year at Hove.

“So, I’m afraid it’s that old cliché ‘use it or lose it’ and unless we get significant sponsorship, it is highly likely we will only be playing at one festival ground in 2016.”

Around 20,000 people attended the annual festival at Arundel in June, while the Horsham Festival numbers were down owing to the wash-out of the Royal London Cup game with Lancashire but Horsham still reported a profit of £8,000.

Sussex chief executive Zac Toumazi feels the festivals are an important part of the season but believes more sponsorship needs to be found in order for them to take place in 2016.

He said: “Festival cricket is an interesting challenge. We all love it and all want it but very few want to pay for it.

“I am a massive supporter of it but the economics have to be considered.”

Friends of Arundel Castle Cricket Club will comment when the outcome of where Sussex will play next year has been made.

The fixtures for next season are expected to be announced within the next week.

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