With England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) set to meet on Wednesday to take a call on its ambitious project The Hundred, a consultancy group has advised it to allow private investment into the tournament to raise cash. Also Read - Michael Holding Criticises England Team's 'Moment of Unity' Gesture, Likens it to Saying 'All Lives Matter'
The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has raised serious concerns over whether ECB will be able to organise The Hundred in 2020. Apart from the cost of hosting such an event during a financial crisis, the board will have to tackle public safety measures and facilitate arrival of overseas cricketers amid travel restrictions. Also Read - Harmanpreet Kaur, Shafali Verma, Smriti Mandhana Among Five India Women Cricketers to Feature in The Hundred
ECB chief Tom Harrison admits there are challenges but also reckons that in the backdrop of the current scenario, Hundred becomes more important. Also Read - Michael Vaughan Reacts on Investigation Into Alleged Racial Tweets, Wants 'Witch Hunt' Against England Cricketers to Stop
“We’ll look at how the situation impacts the Hundred, which was envisaged as being a tournament that enabled us to widen the audience for the game,” Harrison was quoted as saying by AFP. “With an in-stadia environment, with international players, it’s going to be very, very difficult.”
“If anything this crisis and the implications, long-term or medium-term, mean the case for the Hundred is even more important. So I don’t think this in any way dilutes the case for the Hundred, it absolutely accelerates it and makes it something cricket needs to get behind,” he added.
ECB has already stated the Hundred will make a loss of £7million in its first five season.
Meanwhile, Oakwell Sports Advisory has recommended selling stake in each of the eight franchises to private equity.
“The ECB should consider converting its revenue distributions to counties into equity stakes and gifting these to each county. Therefore each Hundred franchise would own its revenue distribution % as an equity stake too. This has real capital value for a county. This will attract potential private capital into buying stakes in Hundred franchises and help counties fund the overall game,” Oakwell said in its report titled The Impact of Covid-19 on English Cricket.
It further advises that the tournament should strike partnerships with India investors including from the IPL owners to pave the way for participation of cricketers from the country.
“The Hundred needs to be able to attract Indian players and subsequently an Indian fanbase, too. The Indian subcontinent constitutes 90% of the 1bn cricket fans aged 16-69 globally. Indian investment into the Hundred, including from IPL team owners, may facilitate the involvement of Indian players in the longer term. In addition to generating revenue out of India, this would be vital in unlocking the south-Asian UK-based fanbase,” it said.