Major schedule changes unlikely as counties digest government roadmap

News

A handful of high-profile fixtures could be moved to help maximise ticket revenues

Any changes to the domestic schedule in the 2021 English season are likely to be limited to a handful of high-value games, after the government revealed a roadmap out of lockdown last week.

While the government’s roadmap does present some challenges for a county game desperate to maximise ticket revenues, various meetings between the counties and the ECB have concluded as much will be lost as is gained by widespread fixture changes.

The T20 Blast starts on June 9, nearly two weeks ahead of the government’s anticipated date for the lifting of social-distancing measures on June 21. As a result, games played in that window will have attendances limited to a maximum 50% of ground capacity.

But while some counties hoped they might be able to swap the rounds of County Championship cricket scheduled for the weeks starting July 4 or July 11, they have now accepted this would not be practical. Several of the Championship games due to be played over that period are at ‘festival’ grounds such as Scarborough, Cheltenham and Chesterfield, with the counties involved confident of good attendances.

There would also be issues with TV schedules – Sky Sports have plans to show T20 games in the period before the lifting of social-distancing measures – and ground availability, with the Ageas Bowl likely to host the World Test Championship final from June 18. Plans to play the entire group stage of the Blast in the period after social distancing has been lifted were also abandoned as impractical as there were only 29 days available in which to play the tournament. As a result, it has been decided the published fixture list will not be changed.

Source link