England & Wales Cricket Board

Cardiff Test future under scrutiny

ESPNcricinfo staff

June 30, 2011

Comments: 14 | Text size: A | A

A familiar scene on the final morning in Cardiff, England v Sri Lanka, 1st Test, Cardiff, 5th day, May 30, 2011
Cardiff struggled to sell the Sri Lanka Test, and is now paying the price © Getty Images
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Teams: England | Glamorgan
Grounds: Sophia Gardens

Cardiff's future as a Test venue is under scrutiny after the ECB announced it had lost the right to host one of next year's three Tests against West Indies. The match has instead been put back out to tender, and will be open to bids from the other eight Test-playing venues, although Lord's is the likeliest host.

The decision came after Glamorgan succumbed to cashflow problems in the wake of this year's disastrous first Test against Sri Lanka, which was dogged by rain and spectator apathy. Only 922 spectators witnessed England's unexpected victory on the final afternoon, despite the offer of free entry.

Earlier this month, the club advised the ECB that it would be late in paying its staging fee of £2.5million, and the club is understood to have made a loss in the region of £1.5million on the fixture.

"This decision has been taken following close consultation with Glamorgan CCC and with a view to assisting the club in developing a sustainable long-term business plan for staging international cricket," said David Collier, the ECB chief executive. "ECB recognises that the club has made considerable investment into developing and upgrading the SWALEC stadium and that this has brought considerable benefits to the wider game in England and Wales.

"Glamorgan CCC has assured ECB that it will fully comply with the terms of the staging agreement in relation to its future international matches and further discussions will take place between both parties to ensure that the club continues to remain on a sound financial footing."

Cardiff will keep hold of a potentially lucrative ODI against India in September, as well as an ODI next year against South Africa, and the ECB said it would treat future bids for matches between 2013-16 strictly on merit. However, its viability as a Test venue is in doubt after the club chairman, Paul Russell, admitted to "conceptual difficulties" in marketing a venue in Wales as a home of English cricket.

The situation was made all the more awkward after it transpired that the ECB had undermined their own bid process in an attempt to bolster the reputation of cricket in Wales. The MCC, that had also bid for the 2012 West Indies Test, is understood to have put in an offer of £1million for the match, although the successful Glamorgan fee was believed to be nearer £600,000.

Had Cardiff remained the host venue, West Indies would have become the first touring team since Sri Lanka in 1998 to be denied a Test at Lord's. That may now be about to change. Russell told ESPNcricinfo that Glamorgan would be making no further comment on the matter.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by HughL on (July 1, 2011, 11:01 GMT)

There are people who think cricket can make millionaires like football and act accordingly. To pay the salaries and rewards (not just to players but others attached to the sport) that are seen as the norm, prices have to be ramped up for a sport which has no terrestrial exposure and has never been a national sport in the way that soccer is. Rugby Union has the same problem- trying to finance a pro game with big salaries without enough people prepared to watch the sport.

We hear so much about how the game is more professional these days and a match day is a quality product but that means little if specatators are priced out of watching it in the sort of large numbesr they need. Fans are sat at home saving money to pay for an Ashes Test as a big four yearly treat and ignoring other games out of finacial need rather rthan indifference

Posted by robheinen on (July 1, 2011, 6:50 GMT)

More often these days pricing is named as a reason for declining attendance at test match cricket, which in turn puts test cricket under pressure as a commercially sound form of playing cricket. Looking at it from my perspective: Did the public request the glamourous stadiums that cricket's been played in these days? Or was it the bobo's in the background that want to make money from the game. They invested to make these glorious venues and raised the price for a ticket in the process to a level where the cricket audience thinks to itself: I'm not going to pay a fortune for this or that match. I'll watch on on tv in the pub with my mates. So, thanks for investing in the stadiums. You'll not get your return on investement, which - I was always taught - is the risk of entrrepreneurship and please look somewhere else to make money.

Posted by Harvey on (July 1, 2011, 6:26 GMT)

Re. the 922 present on the last day - there were never going to be many turning up in that situation wherever the game was held. The real problem was the low attendances on other days. Unfortunately the lack of cricket on freeview TV means English cricket doesn't have the profile it once did, and demand is suffering as a result. @Yevghenny, there were tickets available for a lot less than £60. There were plenty available for half that price. Cardiff Test match tickets were the cheapest anywhere on the circuit. This news is sad in many ways, because fans in Cardiff are better looked after than in most English grounds, and it's very accessible - a wonderful walk along the river through parkland from the station. IMO there was no need to inaugurate new Test grounds, and the bidding system is a disaster for the fans, but of those new grounds Cardiff is easily my favourite. If there was any justice, the charmless and inaccessible Rose Bowl would be the one to lose out on future matches.

Posted by   on (July 1, 2011, 6:05 GMT)

You are always going to struggle to sell tickets in Cardiff. Wales, like NZ is a rugby playing nation. Growing up in NZ I used to hate the fact that cricket got little to no exposure. It is the same in Wales. Furthermore you get the Welsh vs England rivalry (Similar to the Kiwi/Aus) preventing people supporting England. That coupled with high prices, I only went to Eng vs Sri because I had free tickets, you are really going to struggle to sell tickets. It's a shame really as if there was no cricket at all in Cardiff I would never get to go because tickets are expensive enough as it is without having to get a train to watch anywhere else. Long term the ECB need to promote cricket a lot better to gain more interest. This begins with putting cricket back on terresrial TV to start with and bring cricket back to the people.

Posted by cricketmad on (July 1, 2011, 5:33 GMT)

Well, well well!! What happened to all the bold predictions "test cricket is only watched in England & Australia" All that sniggering & pontificating by experts about poor test match crowds in the sub continent and other parts of the world. Are we reaching a stage where ECB is also struggling to finance the game and are reliant on teams like Aus & India to bring people through the gates?

Oh how the mighty have fallen!!

Posted by redneck on (July 1, 2011, 4:35 GMT)

hope it nevers hosts a test again! old trafford has gone without a test since new zealand last toured the uk. manchester is far more deserving than cardiff for hosting test cricket. infact how does lancashire get out bid by grounds like riverside, south hampton and cardiff anyway??? i would like to see more tests at englands more traditional venues outside of london. tests at trent bridge, headingly, edgebaston and old trafford should be every year and i dont understand how the ecb dont see it that way? these 4 grounds are in the biggest population centres outside of london are they not? therefore more likely to give england greater money returns???

Posted by brittop on (June 30, 2011, 22:09 GMT)

I actually like the Cardiff ground. Maybe I'm biased, it bringing test cricket close to me in Wiltshire. I prefer it to the Rose Bowl, which feels to me like a temporary stadium in the middle of nowhere (and as for it's transport links!). Understand that it rains more in the west (Manchester suffers this as well), but that shouldn't preclude it from holding international cricket. Cardiff should be able to attract punters from the West Country who are otherwise miles from test cricket (why shouldn't well over 50% of tickets be sold in England - North Wales is nearer to Manchester). Can't really hold up that last day and it's 922 customers given the weather and the state of the game as indicative of anything.

Posted by   on (June 30, 2011, 21:59 GMT)

This also brings into focus the bigger problem of how matches in England are put out to tender by the ECB, Glamorgan won't have a chance to gain a foothold as a test venue because they have to charge big ticket prices to try and make enough money to pay the ECB!

I'm afraid to say that watching England play is now out of my financial reach I can't afford sky and I can't aford to fork out about £100 for a day of leisure.

How is my son ever going to get into the sport I love?

Posted by   on (June 30, 2011, 21:28 GMT)

I have been to 3 one day internationals in cardiff and 2 days of Ashes test match in last 5 years and have only seen one and half day of cricket!!!! Problem is weather and if cardiff is given test matches and one day in July / August then it is the best option. 5 day test match against Srilanka / west Indies / Pakistan / Newzeland will always struggle to attract crowd. India and australia and even South africa is different. Cricket is pricing itself out by being so expensive ( particularly test matches). Does Empty seats don't tell any thing to organisers? Why not fill the stadium with £30 tickets rather than £50 & £60 each and empty stands???

Posted by Herath-UK on (June 30, 2011, 19:12 GMT)

Cardiff has to face the reality.Early touring teams have to suffer from the inclement weather in England in late May anyway and to have another blow because of poor crowds due to these new venues trying to find their feet is very unfair.Sri Lanka was a victim.Why not all new venues,Cardiff & Rose Bowl etc are not given matches with the teams in the late summer when people will throng to stadiums in the sunny conditions in any way. Ranil Herath - Kent

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