'We have a clear plan to cope with whatever is thrown at us' - Sussex Cricket CEO Rob Andrew

Sussex Cricket SEO Rob Andrew has given an update to supporters, members and sponsors.

Sussex Cricket CEO Rob Andrew
Sussex Cricket CEO Rob Andrew

In the message Andrew says the club have a clear plan for the next 12 months but says the impact of Covid will be 'felt for years to come'.

Here is the message in full:

I hope all our members, supporters and sponsors, and your families are keeping safe through this very challenging year as the country battles with the most serious health pandemic the world has seen in a century.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when we went into lockdown in March 2020, I said our priorities were the health and wellbeing of all staff and supporters, and we were facing a battle for long term survival as a business. Six months in and nothing has changed, and the sports industry faces a very difficult and uncertain next 12 months. This pandemic is not over, and we must continue to make the best decisions we can to protect our people and our business.

We have had a restricted summer of behind closed doors (BCD) cricket at Hove and have had no supporters or events at the ground since early March. The ground remains closed to the public and at the moment it is difficult to see when we will re-open for business. As you can imagine this has had a very damaging effect on our revenue. I estimate we have lost in the order of £3m in revenue from members, supporters, events and hospitality and commercial partners for the summer of 2020.

We have received our full allocation of television revenue for this season, which is why getting cricket on, even with no fans, was so critical to the finances of the whole game.

To offset the loss of revenue we have implemented a raft of actions to reduce costs as much as possible. From the Government furlough scheme to salary reductions and operational cost reductions we have done everything we can to minimise the impact of lost revenue. In addition, we have taken out a Government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan (CBIL) to assist with cashflow over the next 12 months. We have been extremely grateful for the support and generosity of our members who have donated their fees, without this support we would be facing an even greater cash loss for 2020. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank members and sponsors for their patience and unwavering support throughout this crisis, this has carried the club through a difficult summer and will continue to do so over the next period of uncertainty.

As we start to fully understand the financial damage inflicted on us this year, we have also started to put our plans in place for the winter and into next summer. We have reduced costs as much as possible which unfortunately has meant a limited number of redundancies across the organisation, and we have also had to reduce the playing budget for 2021 as we look to plan a way forward over the next 12-18 months. We have had to make some very difficult decisions regarding player contracts at the end of this season, but it has been necessary to reduce the cost base of the business as we plan for all eventualities. This has been offset however, by some exciting new young signings, who undoubtedly help us to ensure we continue to put the strongest team possible on the field.

As other sports are finding there is still no sign when spectators will be allowed back into sports venues, and our ancillary conference and events business is effectively shut down for the foreseeable future. At this stage we are hopeful that by next spring we will be able to welcome members and supporters back into the ground and a semblance of normality will return. We also have to plan in case we have restricted capacities next summer and the impact this would have on our finances.

There is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 will be felt for years to come, and the sports industry over the next 12 months will be very challenged.

Our south-west corner development project has not been affected by the crisis and we have a formal planning permission. The site is being prepared for demolition and we expect to be in a position to start construction in early 2021. This is a very exciting long-term project for the club and will provide the club with long term income and a very valuable capital asset. This will provide further long-term financial stability for the club.

Our responsibility in the short and medium term is to put plans in place to ensure the ongoing viability of the club well into the future. We have a huge number of projects across both Sussex Cricket and Sussex Cricket Foundation and a very strong strategy for the growth of all forms of cricket across the whole county over the next 5 years. That strategy will not change but we may have to deploy our resources in a slightly different way. We will continue our long-term focus on the development of young home-grown players with the most appropriate overseas player support.

We have been playing at Hove since 1872, and in 2022 we will be celebrating 150 years of cricket in Hove. We have a clear plan to cope with whatever is thrown at us over the next 12 months and beyond, and with everyone’s support we will come out of this crisis in a strong position and able to face the future in a positive way.

Thank you once again for your amazing support, keep safe and well through the winter and I look forward to welcoming you all back to Hove as soon as possible.