CEO Warren Deutrom bailed Cricket Ireland out with €100,000 loan

Cricket Ireland CEO Warren Deutrom at the ICC annual conference Peter Della Penna/ESPNcricinfo Ltd

Warren Deutrom could have been forgiven for peeking nervously through his curtains this morning. For Deutrom, Cricket Ireland's chief executive since 2006, knows only too well both how important good weather could be to a decent attendance for the ODI at Malahide, but also how much the organisation requires the finance generated by strong ticket sales.

So precarious have Cricket Ireland's finances been in recent months that Deutrom recently loaned the organisation €100,000 (US$112,000) of his own money to ensure that creditors' demands were met. Without his direct intervention, players and board employees would not have had their salary and various bills would not have been paid.

The crisis occurred in early October. With CI waiting on a payment of somewhere in the region of US$1million from a broadcast payment that was every bit of five months overdue, it became apparent that there simply was not enough money to meet the impending demands.

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Deutrom had gone to the bank, the ICC and Sport Ireland in terms of a short-term loan, but all had declined. The banks complained that CI had little credit rating - their sound financial management counted against them here: in having never taken out a loan, they had no record of repaying one - the ICC said it would need to discuss the matter at a board meeting and there was not one planned for a few more weeks. As for Sport Ireland, it's unclear why they declined, and they have been unavailable for comment. But the fact that they did left CI in trouble.

"We were seriously struggling," Deutrom told ESPNcricinfo. "The loan was my wife's idea. She said, 'I can see how much you believe in this and if you do, I do.' So I wrote to our bank and triggered the seven-day notice period on our savings account that switched it to our current account.

"At that stage, I was still hoping one of our lifeboats would come to the rescue. But when none of them did, we made the loan."

He charged no interest and the loan was repaid in about six weeks. It was properly documented and cleared by CI's lawyers, and the ICC have since confirmed they were comfortable with the arrangement. Sport Ireland, it might be noted, advised against it.

There will be, in Ireland in particular, some nervousness about news of such a loan. John Delaney, who was until recently the CEO of the Football Association of Ireland, was recently obliged to stand down after details of another loan of €100,000 - made by him to the FAI - came to light. Suffice to say, however, while the motives for Deutrom's loan were admirably selfless, there are some who doubt the motives behind Delaney's.

"The loan was my wife's idea. She said, 'I can see how much you believe in this and if you do, I do" Warren Deutrom on bailing out the board

Either way, it is an episode that underlines how tough life remains for many of the ICC's nations. And reminds us how important it is that such teams gain significant fixtures - both in number and stature - to ensure they can grow the popularity and viability of the sport.

Take Friday's ODI against England. One day out, about half the tickets had been sold. And with the temperature low and rain falling intermittently, there were modest hopes of a significant walk-up crowd. It costs about €500,000 (US$560,000) to stage such a match - all the facilities, even the dressing rooms, are temporary - and good ticket and corporate hospitality sales will generate only around €400,000 (US$450,000). With a tri-series involving Bangladesh and West Indies to follow, those costs have been mitigated a little, but it is only broadcast fees that will allow CI to make a small profit. Life remains tough.

"These games are not all about money," Deutrom said. "They're about the visibility of the sport and about capturing the imagination of people. And it's about winning and seeing the team improve.

"But there's probably more risk in terms of staging cricket here in Ireland than anywhere else in the world. We're putting on massive games on greenfield sites. We have to put in all the infrastructure and there are no guarantees from the weather. It can be demanding. And yes, last October was a stressful period."

In the not-so-long term, Cricket Ireland hopes to avoid such costs by building its own ground. A location in Abbottstown - location of the National Sports Campus - has been identified. There are plans for a permanent ground boasting floodlights, a sand outfield, a mixture of turf and hybrid pitches and a capacity of around 14,000.

That, they reason, will take around 10 years and cost around €35million (US$39million). By the 2023 season, they hope to have moved to the ground and built the players' media and cooperate hospitality facilities. To keep such a target on track, the square would probably have to be laid within the next 12-18 months. There has been talk - albeit of the wishful variety - of adding a roof at some stage.

They have a commitment from the government to help fund it but, at this stage, no detail of how much funding or when. There is little hope of the ICC contributing in the short term, although the board is set to receive around US$40 million over an eight-year cycle as part of the new financial distribution model.

But until then, with Ireland fighting to make progress both on and off the field, they will keep on relying on a bit of luck with the weather to keep their powder dry.