David Collier claims counties could have gone bust

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ECB Chief Executive David Collier has disclosed just how close some county clubs were to going out of business – if not for the intervention of the England and Wales Cricket Board – in a recent interview.

As he approaches the end of his tenure as Chief Executive, Collier spoke about the financial difficulties that he has encountered during his time in the role, and how that could have resulted in the loss of some county sides.

The 59-year-old has been at the helm of the ECB for almost a decade; having acted as Chief Executive since late 2004, and English cricket has come a long way in that time.

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Summer of 2005

In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Collier revealed the troubling times that faced him during his first full summer in charge. Circumstances out of his hands threatened the future of the domestic game.

He said: “In my very first summer in the role, we had the 7/7 attacks and then 21/7. There was a real possibility that Australia would go home and not play the rest of the series.

“If that had happened, we would have had issues with broadcast partners, with sponsors and with the venues. Seven or eight counties would have gone out of business. It really could have been that bad. There were no reserves.”

Luckily the Australians stayed for the tour, which also coincided with England claiming the
Ashes for the first time in 18 years. The close proximity to teams going out of business was a warning that the ECB heeded moving forward.

Financial stability

The loss of nearly half of the first-class counties could have caused irreparable damage to the game in England, but the ECB – under Collier’s guidance – set about safeguarding the sport’s finances.

Income from Sky for television rights helps many counties stay afloat, and the ECB currently have a surplus of £40m – despite the Allen Stanford debacle in 2008 – to help counter any future threats that come their way.

Collier added: “The game is much safer now. Much more stable. We are in a position where the impact caused by big shocks can be more easily withstood thanks to our reserves and that means the game is more sustainable.”

On the field

The Chief Executive remains in his role for the remainder of the summer before stepping down, and could yet oversee another England Test series victory.

Alastair Cook’s side currently lead India 2-1 with one match still to play, and it would add to the list of successes that have occurred during Collier’s tenure.

No less than four Ashes victories, winning the World T20, and topping the world rankings in all three formats of the game have come in the last decade – testament to the impact of the former Nottinghamshire CCC Chief Executive.

Game development

Aside from the very top level of cricket, the game has developed all over the country. Participation has nearly doubled since 2004, and disability and women’s cricket respectively have also grown.

Charlotte Edwards is currently leading the England Women’s side in their first Test match as a professional sporting team, which is something that seemed a long way off 10 years ago.

With an active interest in the international administration of cricket, Collier can walk away
from the ECB knowing that he has done the game a positive service, regardless of what he does next.

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