Letter from the Acting Chairman
Lancashire Cricket's Acting Chairman, Les Platts, has penned an open letter to the Club's Members and supporters
Dear Member and Supporter,
First of all, I thank you for your continued support and I really hope that you and your families are keeping safe in these difficult circumstances.
I am hugely honoured and proud to have been asked by Sir Howard Bernstein, the Club’s President, to take on the role as Acting Chairman. Everyone at the Club is devastated following the loss of its much-loved Chairman, David Hodgkiss OBE. He was a truly fantastic man, a great friend to many, and someone who loved this Club dearly. We shall, when it’s possible and appropriate, find ways of remembering him together and paying tribute to his immense contribution to Lancashire Cricket Club.
The Club is also having to deal with the current crisis with COVID-19. It is impacting everyone across the world but, whilst there is of course uncertainty surrounding the current situation, everyone from the Board of Directors, to the staff, players and coaching team remain positive and united.
We do not know when we shall see cricket this summer. The ECB have already confirmed that no cricket will be played until the end of May, and we support that decision. As you can imagine, the loss of cricket and non-cricket income is having a significant effect on us as a business. You may have read last week that the ECB have provided additional funding for both professional and recreational cricket clubs, and this money has mitigated this effect. The Club thanks the ECB for the swift and generous contribution. I am sure it has been appreciated by all the counties and clubs up and down the country. Nevertheless if the crisis continues for some months it will have an increasingly negative effect on the Club’s finances, just like many businesses around the UK, and that is something that we do need to prepare for.
As part of this, we have implemented a number of measures to ensure we navigate our way through the current crisis. A large number of the Club’s non-playing staff have been furloughed, with 80% of their wages paid by the government, and the other 20% topped up by the Club in April. One of the main priorities is that we protect and look after our permanent members of staff during this difficult period. The players are not on furlough, although we continue to monitor the situation.
With the knowledge that the season could, at this stage, still commence as early as June, the players remain working through an intensive home exercise programme designed by the strength and conditioning team, whilst also being able to access support from our Psychologist, Lee Richardson. The physical and mental well-being of the players is crucially important to us. In addition to their training programmes, the players are also supporting the Club in other areas of the business as Lancashire Cricket pulls together during this difficult period.
The Club has agreed with all staff a 20% salary reduction in May, which may extend further. This has also been unanimously agreed to by the Lancashire players and coaches. Particularly regarding the players, this pay cut has been successfully adopted following numerous conversations between the Club and several senior players. Furthermore, the Club has also today announced that that the contracts of the Club’s overseas players BJ Watling, Glenn Maxwell and James Faulkner have been mutually terminated for the 2020 campaign. These are clearly very uncertain and challenging times for all counties at the moment and we therefore agreed it would be prudent to mutually come to an agreement with the players we had originally signed. As a result, there will be significantly increased opportunities for some of our younger, homegrown players to have an impact this season, and that is something we hugely pride ourselves on here at Lancashire.
I have been enormously impressed with the response to this crisis by all the staff at Emirates Old Trafford. One of the Club’s values is being ‘Unified’ and I’ve certainly seen that shine through in the last few weeks. The players have conducted themselves brilliantly over the past month, and they were very keen that any salary reductions for them should be in line with the rest of the Club’s staff. It has truly been a unified approach to what is a very difficult situation we currently find ourselves in. The whole Club has been kept informed of these decisions throughout, and whilst some have not been easy to make, I would like to thank all of our staff who have worked incredibly hard and acted professionally whilst performing their roles so diligently during a period of such uncertainty.
We have a duty of care not just to everyone involved with playing or the running of the Club, but to those Members and fans that have supported us, those who have been with us through thick and thin. At this time of the year, I know how you all look forward to the cricket season, and in normal circumstances, our first County Championship game of the season would have already taken place by now. It is disappointing for us all, but it is the situation we find ourselves in and we must do our best to get through this difficult time.
Lancashire Cricket is a Members’ Club. I know how passionately David felt about this and we will continue to build on that legacy as we move forward without him. Lancashire Cricket is a family and we will do our utmost to protect every single one of you. One of the ways we are doing this is by calling you. You may have already seen these Member calls from Keaton Jennings and Warren Hegg and we’ll try and get through as many as possible from a mixture of staff, players and also the Members’ Representative Group. If you know of someone who is reticent but needs support, then let us know. Our staff and players want to help.
We also want to find ways of keeping all our Members and supporters engaged with the Club, so those who have ideas or suggestions for this, please let us know. There is plenty that can be done to help see us through this. I know the team have been working hard behind the scenes creating lots of content, going through archived footage of historical matches, as well as this great Skype interview between Warren Hegg and fan-favourite Ian Austin and Neil Fairbrother. We already have a few more Lancashire legends lined up too, including Wasim Akram, in the coming weeks so we hope you’ll enjoy them.
I am committed to ensuring that communication lines are open between the Club and it’s Membership. As soon as we have more information regarding a potential start to the season, we shall be in touch. We hugely appreciate your patience and understanding in all of this.
We ask everyone connected to the Club and in the North West to listen and adhere to the government’s advice. Meanwhile, we shall continue to prepare Lancashire Cricket Club for a return to the pitch and make sure that, when safe, we are ready to play and serve you, our Members, and the wider community.
Stay home, and stay safe please.
Acting Chairman, Lancashire Cricket