July 4, 2002

ECB seeks explanation for low Headingley turn-out

CricInfo Staff

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) have written to Yorkshire asking the club to explain the low attendance at the NatWest Series one-day international between England and Sri Lanka at Headingley on Tuesday.

Although the ground has a capacity of 15,000, only around 9,000 spectators were present as England won the rain-affected but highly entertaining match by three wickets in the final over.

The ECB's director of corporate affairs John Read told The Guardian newspaper: "We're very disappointed by the crowd in Leeds. Tim Lamb [the chief executive] wrote to Yorkshire [on Wednesday] seeking a full explanation.

"The reasons for it will be fully discussed by the ECB's management board. It is important to us that all our venues sell out or get as close to that position as possible.

"Apart from the revenue aspect, the players prefer to play in front of full houses - and a big crowd makes for a much better spectator experience.

"Overall the NatWest series has been a great success. We budgeted for takings of £4 million and we're heading for a figure of £4.2m, with a total attendance of about 180,000.

"In nine of the matches we have had a sell-out or a virtual sell-out. And that includes those games coming up at Edgbaston and Bristol between India and Sri Lanka.

"In view of the fact that we've been crowded out by the World Cup and, more recently, by Wimbledon to a certain extent, and bearing in mind that the weather has been frankly awful, it has been a very good effort.

"The Headingley crowd looks like a one-off, an aberration. And we want to make sure we find the reasons why."