County news April 29, 2015

Lancashire put bleak financial days behind them

ESPNcricinfo staff

Lancashire these days is bathed in an optimistic glow © Getty Images

Lancashire's season on the field might ultimately have ended in disappointment with relegation to the second division of the Championship and defeat in the final of the NatWest Blast, but optimism could hardly be brighter. Off the field, certainly, the joys are unrestrained after they announced a surplus of £793.000 for the year ended 2014.

Twenty20 is growing fast in Manchester, with a 67% increase in attendances last season, driven in part by the fairy-tale return from retirement by Andrew Flintoff, but it is the club's commercial revenue that makes it one of the most financially-secure counties in the country. There is evidence to suggest that they can join Surrey as one of the most financially-secure counties in the land.

After years of hardship, symbolised by a dilapidated ground, the Tesco development and council support that allowed Old Trafford to regenerate has brought a new confidence: considering Tesco's ills, perhaps they pulled that one off just in time.

Lancashire's recovery began last year when they announced record profits of £3.54m - the highest ever posted by a county club. That was their first profit since 2008, a nervewracking period which included, on one occasion, an annual loss of nearly £4m as the ground redevelopment fought off fierce opposition.

Conference and Events revenue rose by nearly 10% to £3.57million whilst the Old Trafford Lodge, due to be extended, generated record revenues of £1,067,000

During the period Old Trafford hosted a Royal London One-Day International against Sri Lanka and an Investec Test Match against India, both of which England won comfortably, continuing their excellent track record at the ground over recent years.

The club insists that success on the field will follow. "The appointment of Ashley Giles as Cricket Director/Head Coach and Tom Smith as the new captain, along with the acquisition of some exciting overseas players to work with talented youngsters coming out of the Academy, means that the ingredients are in place for a successful 2015 on the pitch," a statement said.

Such has been the financial pressures for county cricket that it is not often a county club wins business awards, but Lancashire won several. They picked up the Judges' Choice award at the Manchester Evening News "Business of the Year" Awards, a gold award for tourism from Visit England and project of the year for the new pavilion at the International Stadium Business Awards.

The LCCC Cricket Bond also successfully raised a total of £3.4million which, along with further funding secured from Trafford Council and the Greater Manchester Combined Authorities, will enable the club to replace the Old Trafford Lodge with a four-star 150-bedroom Hilton Garden Inn by the start of the 2017 season.

It will be a while before the workmen disappear just yet, but at least the sound of banging these days is not urgent repairs to an old stadium but the happy sound of financial security.

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