In the 175 years of Surrey County Cricket Club, we have had many great partnerships but, in the modern era of the Club, none has lasted longer than the one between Surrey CCC and JM Finn, who have now supported us for sixteen years – and recently expanded and extended our association by acquiring the naming rights to the iconic stand at the Vauxhall End of The Kia Oval, which will now be known as the JM Finn Stand.
JM Finn will also support our county age group programme, meaning the next generation of players like Ollie Pope, Natalie Sciver, Sam Curran, Tom Curran, Rory Burns and Jason Roy will learn their cricket in shirts bearing the company’s logo.
We have just announced a £1.2m loss before tax for the last financial year. In comparison, we made £6.3 in 2019 – when we staged matches in the ICC World Cup and the final Ashes Test Match – and £2.8m in 2018, when the aforementioned Sir Alastair Cook hit a century in his final Test.
In the 175 years of Surrey County Cricket Club, we have had many great partnerships but, in the modern era of the Club, none has lasted longer than the one between Surrey CCC and JM Finn.
The Club’s turnover, £45m in 2019/20, sunk to £13.7m in 2020/21. This is as a result of the cancellation of The Kia Oval Test Match - the first time the ground has not staged a Test since 1945 - and a drop of £5m in non-match day sales for the Club’s conference and events business, from £6.1m in 2019/20 to £1.1m in 2020/21.
As well as the invaluable support received from our Members, the backing of our commercial partners was incredibly important to us – and JM Finn’s decision to extend and expand their backing of the Club was a huge boost for everyone and has given us a platform to start to build back brighter and stronger than ever before.
Covid-19 has clearly been immensely destructive across the board and cricket as a whole was badly hit by its effects. The ECB recently announced a loss of £16.1m for the last financial year – and this would have been almost unfathomably worse had it not been for the superb work they did in staging last summer’s international programme inside ‘biosecure bubbles’ at The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford. Last year we became the first ground in the country to welcome fans back to live sport, hosting three trial events in July and September, and are expecting our first crowd of 2021 for the London Derby against Middlesex that will take place between May 20th and May 23rd.
Last year we became the first ground in the country to welcome fans back to live sport.
We hope from here on in we can continue to welcome fans back all summer – and after Monday June 21st we have sold games to our full capacity, now augmented by a further 2,700 seats that have been added as part of our new One Oval Square development, which also includes two large new suites, an extension to our Members Pavilion, another roof terrace, more debenture seats and hugely improved concourse facilities.
If we are able to welcome a fully sold-out crowd to the England v India Test Match that will take place at The Kia Oval between Thursday September 2nd and Monday September 6th, it will be quite an emotional moment for everyone associated with the Club.
As we grow back, we also need to get creative with different ways to fill our ground. During the 2019 World Cup, we saw the diversity of modern English cricket audiences for ourselves. Our stands were packed with teeming Tigers from Bangladesh, a sea of blue Indian shirts and vast swathes of Pakistani green.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the cricketing world, the Indian Premier League has continued its exponential growth and is now considered almost on a commercial par with the American giants of the NFL, MLB and NBA.
Whilst some of this growth has been deleterious to our fortunes – losing world-class home-grown players for the first two months of the season is often difficult to take – the commercial opportunity it presents to us cannot be ignored.
The Kia Oval is a crown jewel in a capital city that considers itself the ‘sporting capital of the world’.
The Kia Oval is a crown jewel in a capital city that considers itself the ‘sporting capital of the world’. Attracting regular season IPL matches to London, in much the same way the NFL play at the wonderful new Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the MLB have played at the Olympic Stadium, would be an extraordinary occasion – and would certainly be a huge marker in our Covid comeback.
Written by Richard Gould, CEO, Surrey CCC
Illustration by Asa Taulbut