Shedding the culture of dependency – Dave Brooks

November 20, 2012


OK, let’s start by making a very clear statement, though one which some will not agree with. County Cricket Clubs, like all professional sports clubs, are businesses! Yes, our priority is to maximise our income and then invest those proceeds as wisely as we possibly can. And our priority investment is of course in the professional cricket set up, followed by our facilities, and then the recreational game.

A well invested pro cricket set-up will generate income as people enjoy watching and sharing in success. For example, a home quarter final in the Twenty20 Cup can generate £100,000 on its own. And people now expect to come to a ground that has suitable catering facilities, where the toilets are clean, and where the view, announcements and stewarding add to the experience.

And by supporting the recreational game, working hand in glove in fact, we are not only helping to develop future cricketers, but also developing the future fan base – 60 years from now, where else would the grumpy member come from other than a local Colts Under 11 team of today? Exactly…

And we have yet to mention “developing England cricketers” which is oft quoted as our primary reason for being …TOSH ! If you can develop a strong, well invested team, with good practice and preparation facilities, and can play in (and hopefully learn how to win) big games and the development of England cricketers naturally follows.

But to be successful on the pitch, counties also need the right culture throughout. Tasked in 2009 on appointment with keeping a successful team on the pitch, devising and delivering a ground development program, integrating pro and recreational cricket, and driving the commercial side of the club, it was clear where to focus the day to day activity.

A club which aspires to excellence in everything that it does, both sides of the boundary, should see both the cricket and non-cricket aspects of the club grow as they feed off one another. If one is a bit lazy, it shows and it just has to have an impact on the other.

At Sussex, we are committed to achieving financial independence. In 2008, our ECB grant was nearly 50% of our income, by 2013 it will be around 35% and our vision is to make it 25% by 2015. “That is not independence”, you say, “all that free cash from the ECB”.