County news January 23, 2014

Leicestershire gloom set to deepen

ESPNcricinfo staff

Leicestershire's problems are set to intensify with the announcement of a significant loss for the 2013 financial year.

The club, which finished bottom of the Division Two County Championship table without a win in the season, have cited player salaries and the costs of maintaining their Grace Road ground as pertinent factors in the losses. Leicestershire also declared a loss of just over £250,000 for the 2012 financial year.

"We are about to announce a five-figure loss shortly, in the next two or three weeks, for the year to September 2013," the club's chief executive, Mike Siddal, told the BBC. "We have a relatively old ground which needs a lot of money spending on it in repairs and renovations. Players' salaries go up all the time and we need to invest in the team. I know it sounds a bit simple, but our costs exceed our income."

While the club's on-field form has been poor over the last couple of years - they also failed to progress from the group stages in either of the limited-overs competitions in 2013 - they do have a fine record of developing players.

Stuart Broad, Luke Wright, Harry Gurney and James Taylor are all recent examples of players who have developed in part through the club's system and gone on to interest the England selectors while Shiv Thakor and Ned Eckersley, of the current crop of players, are tipped to join them. The club's 18-year-old off-spinning all-rounder Rob Sayer is also highly regarded and currently represents the England U19 side.

But with the club losing money and failing to perform adequately on the pitch, it is inevitable that Leicestershire will be used as an example of the weakness of the county system by those who believe there are too many first-class counties. Not for the first time, they will start next season fighting to justify their existence and their ECB funding.

Leicestershire did have hopes of diversifying the use of their ground last year, which has one of the largest playing areas in first-class cricket, but plans to make use of the space by providing a home for the city's basketball team look set to fall through despite the financial backing of Sport England. While the decision is not confirmed, it seems the city council is set to back a rival bid to host the basketball team elsewhere in the city.

Plans to build a multi-purpose sport centre in Leicester went on public display a year ago. A £2.5m project on empty land at Grace Road cricket ground also involved Leicester Riders basketball team and Leicester College as well as a number of apartments and was much in keeping with ECB guidelines to finance county grounds by multiple use.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • martin on January 30, 2014, 10:56 GMT

    This in part explains why Leics have done nothing this winter to add to a young squad that lacks experience and basically gave up once they had no chance in the one day competitions last year. They don't have the money to compete.

    It is now a vicious circle for them in that their younger players will look to advance their careers elsewhere once the opportunity comes. A side that is permanently bottom of Division 2 will not keep its most talented players. Also, lack of money means they cannot bring in the experience to balance the youth movement and get competing again. Anyway, why would anyone half decent be attracted to play for such a team?

    Unless they get really lucky with all their young players firing they will always be propping up Div 2 from here. Last season they couldn't bat or bowl, if any team needed a sugar daddy its this one, because you have to wonder what future they have other than being a feeder club for others. Sad.

  • Dummy4 on January 27, 2014, 21:13 GMT

    Unfortunately unless you pay your better players ( Cobb, Ekersley etc ) more they are likely to seek employment elsewhere. I think I am correct in stating that Leics are one of the worst for salaries but it does seem unfair that Leics can spend a lot of time and money developing players only for bigger clubs to come in at a later date. It wasn't that long ago they were County Champions in 98 and 96 but there have been a number of behind the scenes falling outs in recent years which have not helped the club

  • Dummy4 on January 25, 2014, 10:53 GMT

    Would have to agree with Lankymanky that reducing the number of counties is unlikely to help increase the number of young players coming through. Reducing the number of counties would only serve to push English cricket towards becoming a franchise sport.

  • Paulo on January 24, 2014, 17:21 GMT

    Surely Leciestershire should benefit from the talent they have produced, such as Broad and Taylor. Perhaps a football-style transfer system is needed, although I'm not sure how that would work with overseas players, or the lack of money in county cricket.

    Hopefully BT and Sky's rivalry will see more money in the county game from TV revenue. Doubt it will happen though.

  • Chris on January 24, 2014, 9:52 GMT

    'Players' salaries go up all the time....' says Mike Siddal. He makes it sound like some sort of cost which is out of his control. Many people in the UK have not had a pay rise for years - salaries do not go up all the time unless the employer chooses to put them up.

    Leicestershire did not perform well last year so why should the players expect a pay rise? In any commercial business, and that, unfortunately, is what county cricket clubs have become nowadays, if the business is losing money, pay awards are frequently not given.

    When Leicestershire are given their hand-out from the ECB, it should be used wisely and not frittered away on pay rises for under-performing players.

  • steven on January 24, 2014, 6:03 GMT

    i hate this being used as an argument against the county system and that we need less county's. It is clubs like Leicestershire who have no money who are the bigger servants to the game as they have no choice but to promote and play young talented cricketers. These players are getting a chance earlier here rather than the bigger clubs like Notts Warks etc who poach players with first class experience from clubs like Leics. If we only had 12 clubs for example there would be less younger players coming into the system because if you think the older county pro's will step aside you are very naïve. I believe there should be a fairer compensation scheme in place for when players like Broad, Taylor, Gurney leave for bigger teams to maybe put off the poachers but also give Leics more reward for producing these players and more motivation to keep producing them.

  • Tony on January 23, 2014, 23:16 GMT

    Is there not a sugar daddy out there that would like a cricket club rather than a football club? Please, somebody save Leicestershire. Good luck from a Yorkshire supporter.

  • Peter on January 23, 2014, 22:27 GMT

    Bottom of division 2, which is as low as you can go in county cricket. They might as well have kids playing for them and pay them next to nothing, they can't do any worse than the current crop of players are doing. Wanting more money? why do they deserve it?

  • Robert on January 23, 2014, 22:01 GMT

    Time for counties to merge - only answer for long term sustainability.

  • Sanjay on January 23, 2014, 21:35 GMT

    You'd think a few wealthy businessmen would drop some of their extraneous cash and help out. Here's a cricket club with a long history and a massive playing ground. Just needs a little more development, could be done easily. They should be staging international games here.

    In the US, you have alumnis drop staggering amounts into universities/colleges. That doesn't happen often enough in the UK.

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