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Leicestershire CEO Sean Jarvis: High Performance Review could leave club in a ‘battle to survive as a first-class county’

Leicestershire CEO Sean Jarvis Warns The High Performance Review Will Leave The Club In A “Battle To Survive As A First-Class County”
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

Leicestershire chief executive Sean Jarvis has warned of the potential financial cost of the changes proposed in the High Performance Review, as counties tighten their belts amid ongoing financial turbulence.

Speaking to the Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, Jarvis detailed how plans in the review for a reduction in the volume of domestic cricket played across the summer will hit smaller counties the hardest and leave them fighting for their future.

“It would result in a quarter of a million-pound loss to Leicestershire from our bottom line and that’s something we just can’t accept,” he said. “It’s very scary, and if the worst comes to the worst and the plan does go through, we would have to fight and battle to survive as a first-class county.


“It’ll be the nail in the coffin for counties like ourselves and it would make us unsustainable. So there’s no way I can endorse that or actually vote for that if a vote was required.”

The current plans in the High Performance Review propose reducing the number of games played in the County Championship and the T20 Blast, leaving counties hosting four fewer games across both competitions per season. The review cites that “less cricket is critical to protecting the standard and intensity of competition”.

For those whose grounds do not host Hundred sides, the loss of revenue from cutting the calendar, along with potential falling membership numbers will be all the more crippling. Counties are already feeling the financial pressure this winter, with the rise in energy costs vastly increasing expenditure.

The revenue Hundred hosts can make on top of the £1.3 million yearly compensatory payment from the ECB, means a reduction in Blast games will not hit them as hard.

“If we have some inclement weather come into play, that number of actual Blast games we’re able to put on could go down to three,” says Jarvis. “We’ve had record attendances for the best part of ten years here for our T20s so that’s really encouraging. What I’m hearing is that across the board, other’s T20 revenues have dropped this year but the Hundred has increased.

“I’d be curious to know about what’s happening at these grounds. Are their T20s being cannibalised by the Hundred? I can’t speak for them but I suspect some counties who host Hundred teams would be comfortable with a reduction of T20s because they have the Hundred games, and their members would accept that as long as there isn’t a reduction in the four-day game. When you apply that logic to Leicestershire, that doesn’t wash.

“Our members’ exciting cricket is T20 so they don’t want to see that reduced. When you compare Leicestershire to say, Warwickshire, they have the Test games, they have T20s and they have the Championship, I think if you asked them what could give, it would be the T20s. So there’s a danger of an ‘us and them’ being created in this process and that’s where cricket has got to come out on top.”

The proposals in the High Performance Review will be voted on in the coming weeks, with at least 12 counties needed to vote in favour for it to pass. At Leicestershire, a consultation meeting with club members last week outlined their steadfast opposition.

“Our members were very clear at the meeting,” says Jarvis. “They wanted two divisions of nine in the Championship, or to go back to one single division. I’m relaxed about how it could work and I’m curious to know the proposals but I am against any reduction.

“The members accept that the game needs to get better, but those proposals can’t be to the detriment of a club that’s been here since 1879. We’re still here and we’re still willing to listen but it must not hurt our county.”

Despite the concerns the High Performance Review in its current incarnation has caused a large number of counties, its focus on delivering “an aligned high-performance system” to enable England to become the world’s best team across all formats is an attractive pay-off if achievable. Balancing that with the needs of the counties for revenue, and ensuring the cricket they put on is attractive to their membership, is an uphill battle.

“I think there are elements of the HPR that are very good and there’s even an argument to say that those should’ve been implemented in years gone past,” says Jarvis. “Particularly related to how we develop our players and I actually think they could go further. Cricket has got this journey to go through with elite development and in that regard I think the High Performance Review is excellent.

“It’s incredibly difficult, I don’t know the answer and I think this is where you need ongoing dialogue, debate and experts from all different perspectives. But if you look at all of the other sports, none of them reduce their game.”

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