County news January 31, 2013

Counties take advantage of ECB loans

ESPNcricinfo staff

Thirteen English counties have taken advantage of £1million loans offered by the ECB to help boost the domestic game.

In total, £18million is available between the counties who show evidence of a suitable business plan and the counties are required to meet certain targets relating to stadia and facilities, customer relations, community programmes and business operations.

Only five counties - Derbyshire, Durham, Essex, Nottinghamshire and Sussex - have yet to take advantage of the scheme but are expected to send business plans later in the year.

The loans will supplement the annual fee payments made to all 18 counties each year. Last year total expenditure on the domestic game was £49.1million, £42.6 million being fee payments to the counties.

ECB chairman Giles Clarke said: "With all sports facing increased competition for resources in a tougher economic climate, it is imperative that our first-class county clubs are financially robust, boast modern, spectator-friendly facilities and can continue to act as centres of sporting excellence within their local communities.

"The increased investment will help the First Class Counties plan for the future with greater confidence and implement a programme of change which will help make our domestic game even more attractive to spectators, broadcasters and sponsors alike."

There was also a further boost for community clubs badly hit by last year's wet weather with the ECB board allocating an extra $420,000 to the worst hit grounds.