Northants suffer £450,000 financial loss
Only three months after Northamptonshire's chairman claimed the club was in the best financial position it had been in for 20 years, the board has declared losses of almost £450,000 for the financial year ending September 30, 2015.
That follows a loss of £305,636 for the previous year. Turnover is down (from £3.67m to £3.65m), the operating loss is up (from £269,000 to £357,000) and debt (from £1.48m to £2.66m) has increased substantially. Loans totalling £475,000 were received from "private investors" in 2015, with the club paying annual interest of 7% on a loan of £125,000 from one of its directors.
All of which makes Gavin Warren's claim to the BBC at the start of December that the club is "in a far superior financial situation than it has been in for 20 years" all the more remarkable.
But this will not be the first time the words of the club management have been hard to tally with reality in recent times. Shortly after the chief executive, Ray Payne, denied an ESPNcricinfo story detailing the club's need for financial aid and dismissed any knowledge of plans for a ground move, the club were forced to admit that such plans did exist - ESPNcricnfo has copies of them - and that they had required financial assistance. "It was a reality that Northants might not remain a club," Warren subsequently told BBC Radio Northampton.
The club also informed the ECB - and the media - that there was a covenant on the ground that prohibited its sale or development as anything other than a sports ground and denied ESPNcricnfo's claim that the club's chief executive presence at the ground was part-time. It was subsequently proved that the club had been mistaken on both counts. Indeed, ESPNcricinfo understands that more than £10,000 was spent on the plans for a new ground and that at least one senior figure on the ECB board came to view the proposed site. The covenant was lifted several years ago.
The financial statement also confirms that Allan Lamb, the former England batsman, resigned from the board in August - a claim that Lamb himself denied in writing at the time.
Coming at the end of a year in which the club enjoyed several lucrative but not necessarily repeatable events, the financial results are especially concerning. Northants hosted a three-day tourist match against Australia in 2015, received a payment for the transfer of David Willey to Yorkshire, a payment for the gate of the T20 quarter-final at Hove (the visiting side receives 25% of gate receipts) and prize money for reaching the final of the same competition.
The club also benefited from recently upgraded conference and event facilities that had not been completed the previous year and cut their playing staff to reduce costs. There are currently only 15 full-time playing professionals on the staff.
They were hit, though, by reduced ECB payments of around £350,000.
Which all left the directors to reflect in far more sober terms than Warren's statement before Christmas. "The directors have a reasonable expectation that with the continued support of its funders the company will have adequate resources to continue in operational existence for the forseeable future [sic]," their financial statements reads.
Northants holds an AGM on March 24 at which Warren, and two other board members, must stand for re-election.
One potential piece of good news for Northants is the return of Monty Panesar, their former spinner who will take part on their pre-season tour as he bids to rebuild his career after his high-profile departure from Essex last year.
George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo