A cancellation of the 2020-21 Border Gavaskar Trophy between Australia and India, scheduled for the end of the year, could spell catastrophe for Cricket Australia, the host, a UK-based sports advisory group has claimed.
India are set to play Australia in four Tests and three ODIs, between November 2020 and January 2021, immediately after the conclusion of the T20 World Cup in October in the same country. However, with the uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, and with international sport unlikely to resume anytime soon, neither tournament is assured to go ahead as planned.
With that eventuality in mind, Oakwell Sports Advisory, a London-based sports consultancy firm that offers integrated services and solutions to sports companies, has claimed that the damage caused to the CA board if the series does not go ahead as planned would be severe.
In a comprehensive report that analyses the impact of Covid-19 on English cricket and the financial constraints the epidemic would impose on the ECB, should they face a complete cancellation of England’s summer of cricket, the report attempts to forecast the magnitude of losses at the county and countrywide level.
In a section titled “ECB In The Context Of The ICC Member Associations”, the report states the share of the ICC revenue that the ECB is entitled to receive, before analysing its financial strength in terms relative to its rival board CA.
The report goes on to state that despite the severe financial challenges ahead of it, the ECB has “a far stronger net cash position than Cricket Australia”, before citing CA’s dependence on series against England and India to constitute a significant portion of its revenue pie.
“Cricket Australia is reliant on series against England and India for a large portion of its revenue in a four-year cycle,” the advisory notes. “A cancellation of the Test series against India would be catastrophic for Cricket Australia due to their lucrative broadcast contract with Sony in the Indian subcontinent.”
The advisory acknowledges that no cricket board is immune to being hit by the disruption in live sport, which will significantly hit native broadcast deals across the world, before making recommendations for both Cricket Australia, including the privatisation of the Big Bash League, as well as for other member boards, to soften the financial blow from Covid-19.
“Like ECB, Cricket Australia will face short-medium-term problems issuing grants to its home state associations if there is a continued absence of broadcast, sponsorship and ticket revenue generated from international cricket,” the report says. “A third-party debt facility may help with this problem, as would looking to privatise the Big Bash franchises that are currently owned by the state associations.
“All other national cricket boards will face considerable cashflow problems the longer the Covid-19 pandemic continues. All boards have long-term broadcast deals that will be jeopardised by a continued absence of cricket. A consolidation of cricket boards, or a ICC-wide third party debt solution would help to mitigate the lasting financial impact of Covid-19 on global cricket.”