Lancashire have put a brave face on the decision to award an Ashes Test in 2009 to Cardiff rather than Old Trafford, vowing to bounce back from the disappointment. But it is sure to reignite the debate about the future of Old Trafford and a potential move to a new ground at Wigan.
Jim Cumbes, the Lancashire president, told PA that the announcement did not signal the beginning of the end. "We still have Test matches in 2007 and 2008 and it's not the first time we have missed out on an Ashes Test. We bounced back after 2001 and we can do it again."
But he pointed out that some venues - Manchester and Southampton in particular - were operating on an uneven playing field, in that Cardiff was able to rely on backing from the Welsh Assembly and tourist board. "This is a different landscape altogether," he explained. "It's not down to the money the ground can generate, it's what you can generate from the region. It has been clear the decision has been a commercial one.
"It's not that we were a few thousand quid short, apparently we were a long, long way short. The ECB told us we ticked all the right boxes except the one that returned monies to the board and, to be fair to the board, they are under pressure to get the highest amount of money possible.
"We were likening it last night to football and Roman Abramovich and you can't compete financially. We stretched ourselves to the limit to make the best possible bid we could, but Cardiff were into figures we could not possibly match.
"To say we are disappointed is an understatement. It's a massive kick in the teeth for the north west, which is a hotbed of cricket, and of course for the public of the north west."