ECB chief executive Tom Harrison has said that the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could force the ECB to seek private investment into The Hundred.
While franchises being privately owned is par for the course in some short-form leagues, including in the Indian Premier League, The Hundred had been set up to be self-sustaining, with the competition in its entirety, including all the teams, being owned and run centrally by the ECB, a similar model to that employed by the Big Bash League in Australia.
But with the ECB liable to incur losses of up to £300m in Harrison’s estimation if no cricket is possible this summer, a rethink might be needed. A report from leading sports financial advisory firm Oakwell Sports Advisory recommended that the ECB should seek private investment, including from IPL team owners.
Speaking shortly after the delaying of the first season of The Hundred until 2021 was announced, Harrison was asked about the report on Sky Sports’ ‘The Cricket Show’ and didn’t rule out pursuing a “different kind of business model”.
A two-part question from Sky Sports pundit Nasser Hussain ended: “There was a report out recently about selling stakes in various franchises, going down the IPL model, having a Coca Cola franchise, some of the big companies involved. Have you ever changed your mind or wavered in any way?”
Harrison’s answer to that part of Hussain’s question went as follows: “Your point about, ‘Does this present opportunities for a different kind of business model going forward?’ Yes it does. Maybe the financial impact of coronavirus forces us into a place where we have to look at some of those opportunities.
“But that is something that we will do with the game and is not something that we are going to jump into because we are broadly in a very strong position with the game and I’m very confident that we can, in partnership with the game, build our way out of this.”