Major match allocation 2012-16 December 8, 2008

Lord's could lose out in new staging deal

Cricinfo staff

The MCC's ambitious plans for a £200 million redevelopment project at Lord's could be under threat, after the England & Wales Cricket Board revealed they are considering a new staging agreement that would guarantee the venue only two Tests in five years from 2012 to 2016.

Since 2000, Lord's - which has the largest capacity of any cricket ground in England with more than 28,000 seats - has successfully bid for two Tests a year, but Keith Bradshaw, the MCC chief executive, told The Daily Telegraph that any prospect of increasing that capacity hinged entirely on continuing their current volume of international cricket.

"We are disappointed that the ECB don't recognise Lord's as an iconic venue in the same way that Wembley and Twickenham are viewed by football and rugby," said Bradshaw. "We had big plans to redevelop the ground. If we don't have assurity of major matches, which underpins future investment, we will have to ask ourselves if those plans are still justified as a major investment."

The ECB's new plans are intended as an extension of the existing deal, which runs until 2012, and is designed to assist the counties with their financial planning. The intention is for all nine category A grounds to be guaranteed a minimum of 11 days' international cricket over the course of the five years, although this covers only 50 percent of the games in that period, which means the remainder will be the subject of fierce bidding.

The new longer staging agreements have been proposed to the ECB by the independent Major Matches Group, chaired by Lord Morris, and documents were sent out to the counties last week. "This is a step in the right direction," Jim Cumbes, Lancashire's chief executive, told the paper. "Without Test match cricket these grounds are just not viable. It is not about making fat profits it is more a matter of being able to support the infrastructure needed to host major international cricket."