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ECB set to change central contracts cycle but denies cash-flow issues

Counties may have to be compensated for covering white-ball payments before new contracts begin in February

George Dobell
George Dobell
England's white-ball players are set to transition to new central contracts in February  •  Getty Images

England's white-ball players are set to transition to new central contracts in February  •  Getty Images

The ECB is considering postponing the start date of some England player central contracts, though it has denied that is because it is facing cash-flow difficulties.
In the past, central contracts have run from the start of October to the end of September to reflect the English season. While the next contracts will be announced, as usual, in late September, ESPNcricinfo understands that England players on white-ball deals will have to wait until February 1, 2020 for their new contracts to begin. As a consequence, the terms of the current white-ball central contracts will be carried over for an extra four months, with the players' counties footing the bill for that time.
The ECB has said this is to move the contracts in line with its own financial year, which begins in February, a shift that will also take place with its Test contracts. England's only white-ball cricket between now and February 1 is five T20Is in New Zealand in November.
The ECB also pointed out that the manner in which white-ball contracts are paid will change, with players no longer receiving incremental payments on top of their county deal, but having their entire salary paid by the ECB - until now white-ball contracts have been paid as increments by the ECB on top of the players' county contracts. If counties are required to supplement their players' wages during the four-month hiatus, they will be recompensed by the ECB in February.
But some in the game have suggested the move is designed to buy the board time as it battles with cash-flow issues. They point out that expenditure and costs associated with setting up The Hundred have bitten deep into the ECB's resources. It has previously been reported that those set-up costs have more than trebled from an initial expectation of £13m a year to somewhere around £40m.
As recently as 2016 the ECB declared reserves of £73.1m in its annual report, but that figure was down to £11.24m in the latest set of accounts.
The value of white-ball contracts is understood to have increased by £100,000 a player a year, to £275,000, while red-ball contracts have increased in value by £175,000 a year to £650,000. The next tranche of money from the latest broadcast deal hits the ECB accounts in February.
A spokesperson for the Professional Cricketers' Association told ESPNcricinfo that talks were continuing.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo