England news November 18, 2009

MCC boss denies plans to sell Lord's name

Cricinfo staff

The MCC has fiercely denied claims that the club is selling naming rights to Lord's to help fund a proposed £400 million redevelopment of the ground. But it also insisted that the ECB must guarantee a number of international fixtures for the project to go ahead.

Keith Bradshaw, the MCC chief executive, had been quoted in The Times on Tuesday night as saying: "That [securing naming rights] is obviously an option but you reach a point at which you do not want to sell your soul."

But Bradshaw insisted today, on BBC Five Live, that he had been misunderstood: "I just want to reassure people that there's no way we would rename Lord's. It's the home of cricket, the hallowed turf. It's not an option at all.

"It's something that we wouldn't consider, and in fact I even have a real problem even considering renaming the stands within the ground that are now dedicated to famous cricketers. It's not on the agenda, it's not on the cards and there's no way we'll be going down that path."

The plans, entitled Vision for Lord's, include raising capacity by around 7,500, building an underground cricket academy and expanding the museum. The project will be part-funded by luxury flats around the periphery of the stadium but the Bradshaw stressed that cricket, not commerce, had led the proposal.

"Whatever we do in terms of the vision, it's cricket-led, it's not commercial-led," he said. "We've taken a lot of things into consideration in terms of the design, not from a commercial perspective, but a cricket perspective.

"We want Lord's to continue to be the best ground in the world and we believe that we need to move with the times and make some developments, but keep that ambience and the things that make it very special to come to Lord's."

The MCC insist, however, that the proposal hinges on the ECB guaranteeing Lord's a number of international fixtures and the agreement of the Rifkind Levy Partnership, who own part of the land at the Nursery end of the ground.

While other grounds compete for international games, Lord's is due to host three Test matches next summer including a 'neutral' match between Pakistan and Australia.