Cash crunch forces Cricket Ireland to cancel Afghanistan series

Cricket Ireland,Future Tours Programme,Sports Business News,Warren Deutrom,Cricket Ireland FTP

The Board of Cricket Ireland does not have sufficient funds to fulfil its Future Tours Programme commitments next year. Financial constraints have forced the board to rework its international FTP for 2020.

The Ireland cricket which got the International Cricket Council Test status along with Afghanistan in 2017, is compelled to change the Test against Bangladesh into T20 Internationals. A five-match T20I home series against Afghanistan has been cancelled.

The Board of Cricket Ireland in an official communique confirmed the changes in its itinerary for 2020.

The Board of Cricket Ireland has confirmed a range of changes to the Future Tours Programme in 2020, resulting from financial constraints and prioritisation of fixtures that have direct context to upcoming world cups, the board has officially reported.

Key amongst the changes was the conversion of the home Test match against Bangladesh into a T20 International, and the loss of the Afghanistan series.

“We were proud to become world cricket’s 11th Test playing nation and have a long-term commitment to that format of the game. Both fans and players alike have enjoyed the spectacle of Ireland competing in the Test arena, however we have been very careful in our approach to Test cricket and understand that it is a long-term proposition to build up a competitive side in the long game, and will require significant investment in permanent infrastructure before we can make regular Test cricket financially sustainable,” said Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland.

“We have additionally been very open about the financial and resource constraints that we operate within, and especially a number of financial headwinds that we have faced as we transition from an Associate Member to the operations required of a Full Member.

“The ICC have been supportive in giving us this opportunity, but the reality to date has been Cricket Ireland dealing with significant financial challenges. The costs associated with delivering to Full Membership standards and fulfilling a much greater number of international fixtures each year has not been matched by expected revenues and a number of key unforeseen financial blows. With an allocation amounting to less than half of that of Zimbabwe, our expected revenues from the ICC Funding Model for Full Members have not been realised. Although we generate a higher percentage of our own income outside of ICC funding than a number of more established nations, the fact is that it is insufficient to help us transition smoothly to our current status.

“This has been a great disappointment to us as we had hoped to have had an injection of new money into the sport from Full Membership that would have not only helped fulfil fixtures, but invest in infrastructure and the grassroots game across Ireland. We have been told that this expected shortfall is set to continue until 2023 when a new ICC Funding Model will be developed that will hopefully provide a greater share of the overall allocation, although of course that is still subject to discussion among all the members.

“In addition, while the day-to-day running of cricket goes on, we have also been hampered by the revenue shortfall from the postponement by 12 months of the Euro T20 Slam, an international broadcast partner falling over, the high costs of insurance of international games held at home and the ongoing challenge of high temporary infrastructure costs given the lack of a permanent cricket stadium in Ireland.

“2020 will also see one of our four internationally-accredited grounds out of commission with Clontarf undertaking major renovations that has put a strain on our match allocation process next year.

“As a result of all of this, the Board has had to make some tough decisions on the fixtures and ground allocations to ensure we can fulfil as much of the home programme as possible.

“The first area of prioritisation for 2020 has been white ball cricket over red ball. Like all Irish cricket fans, we would love nothing more than to be competing on all three fronts – Tests, ODIs and T20Is. Unfortunately, our financial constraints have led us to cut the home Test match next year. As the Test does not form part of the World Test Championship, the one-off match lacks context. For effectively a “friendly”, the expected costs for hosting the Test would be over €1 million, with little expectation of creating revenue streams to cover the costs of hosting.

“Those tough decisions also include having to prioritise some white-ball cricket over others. With Bangladesh and NZ coming over for important ODIs, it makes sense to extend their tours with complementary T20Is. Similarly, Pakistan is the #1 T20I team in the world and have proven popular visitors here over the years. However, we have notified the Afghanistan Cricket Board that we shall not be in a position to host them for the 5 planned T20Is in 2020. We have been regular and frequent opponents of the Afghans every year for a long time now, and we shall be again in future. However, needs must at this juncture to ensure we are operating as a responsible governing body operating within our means.

“The ODIs and remaining T20Is next year, on the contrary, both have greater context and direct connections to two upcoming World Cups. The T20Is will form essential match play experience leading into the T20 World Cup in October, while the ODIs will become important with the start of the new World Cup Super League next year, which is the next 50-over World Cup’s qualification process. This will mean that in 2020, three of the Bangladesh ODIs and the three New Zealand ODIs next year directly count towards world cup qualification.

“It’s pertinent to note, we are aware that potential further changes may be forthcoming in the Future Tours Programme, as other Full Members similarly firm up their schedules. We are awaiting communication on these and will publish that information when we have clearance to do so.

“The second area of prioritisation has been match allocations. Our Match Allocation Group undertook significant work several months ago allocating international matches to grounds, however as our schedule has changed and the financial challenges in 2020 have become clearer, we have had to review and tweak that allocation to ensure cost minimisation of the fixtures and to maximise the reuse of both pitches and temporary infrastructure where feasible. We are still working on finalising the myriad pressures of pitch usage and financial considerations to ensure an allocation that is feasible from a pitch-use perspective, is cost-conscious and also fair. Unfortunately, the reality of having more matches than fresh international pitches on which to play is that we cannot confirm anything until we have confirmed everything. Bearing in mind the knock-on impact for inter-provincial and club cricket schedules, we are aiming to confirm that as quickly as possible.

“Despite these changes, next year is still set to be our biggest-ever year of international cricket, with the men’s squad undertaking multiple overseas tours, hosting the world’s number one T20I side, hosting the World Cup runners-up and playing in a World Cup, while the women will participate in multiple series’ and participate in a 50-over world cup qualifier.

“In addition, we are still hopeful of hosting the inaugural season of the Euro T20 Slam to launch in 2020, bringing even more exciting cricket action to these shores for fans to enjoy.”

Ireland were awarded Test status in June 2017 alongside Afghanistan.

Warren Deutrom, Chief Executive of Cricket Ireland, said the board’s financial health has not improved as much as it was expected to after becoming a full member of the International Cricket Council (ICC).

“…we have been very careful in our approach to Test cricket and understand that it is a long-term proposition to build up a competitive side in the long game, and will require significant investment in permanent infrastructure before we can make regular Test cricket financially sustainable,” said Deutrom.

“We have additionally been very open about the financial and resource constraints that we operate within…,” he said.

“Unfortunately, our financial constraints have led us to cut the home Test match next year. As the Test does not form part of the World Test Championship, the one-off match lacks context,” he added.

The postponement of the inaugural Euro T20 Slam has also hurt the Irish board. With a limited budget, the board’s focus is now on the T20 World Cup in Australia next year.

“The first area of prioritisation for 2020 has been white ball cricket over red ball. Like all Irish cricket fans, we would love nothing more than to be competing on all three fronts – Tests, ODIs and T20Is.

“For effectively a ‘friendly’, the expected costs for hosting the Test would be over 1 million euro, with little expectation of creating revenue streams to cover the costs of hosting,” said Deutrom.