Extent of pandemic revealed at club’s AGM, as reserves take financial impact
Covid-19’s impact on county cricket’s richest club has been laid bare at Surrey’s AGM, where the club announced a £1.2 million loss before tax during the 2020-21 financial year.
The figures were announced during the first event to be held in the club’s new 175 Suite, part of the One Oval Square development that has added 2,700 new seats to The Kia Oval – as well as two large new suites, another roof terrace and an extension to the Micky Stewart Members’ Pavilion.
The financial loss for last year was in stark contrast to the record profits generated in 2019-20, when the club’s pre-tax profit was £6.3m. In 2018, profits were £2.75m.
The club has built up significant reserves in recent seasons, but these were tested in 2020, with the pandemic estimated to have cost Surrey a cash sum of £5.6m. Efficiency savings, as well as two restructurings that led to a number of staff redundancies, further mitigated the losses.
For the first time since 1945, The Oval was unable to host a Test match, and this was the central reason for a drastic reduction in turnover, from £45m in 2019-20 to £13.7m. The closure of facilities around the ground, including hospitality and conference venues, caused a drop of £5m in non-matchday sales, from £6.1m in 2019-20 to £1.1m in 2020-21.
The figure would have been more significant had it not been for a large proportion of Surrey’s members choosing not to take up the offer of a 25% refund on their annual fees. This helped the club to retain nearly £2m of revenue.
The club utilised a number of government schemes to prevent further damage to the business, including the retention of approximately £1m in Business Rates. The furlough scheme, meanwhile, helped to protect the jobs of many club staff, with Surrey picking up the extra 20% of salary not covered by the government.
Extra support was also received from the ECB, thanks to the England Men’s team’s achievement in completing their full programme of fixtures from within biosecure bubbles at The Ageas Bowl and Emirates Old Trafford. A further cash advance is due in the remainder of the County Partnership Agreement.
“The Covid19 pandemic has had a hugely damaging impact on all areas of this country but – with the two key facets of our business being live sport and conferences and events – Surrey CCC were particularly exposed,” said Richard Gould, the chief executive.
“Thanks to the unflinching support of our members, government support, the ECB’s ability to continue to stage international cricket in a biosecure environment and some very hard decisions, we have managed to weather the storm and are now preparing to build back brighter and stronger than before.
“Our Chair is often fond of using the phrase ‘Surrey Family’. This strength of community within the Club is always something that I have hugely appreciated and enjoyed working with.
“However, it is when the chips are down that you truly appreciate the remarkable support we receive from all aspects of our fanbase. Without the backing and understanding of our Membership, Covid19 could have caused almost irreparable damage to our Club. That this did not happen is something we are immensely grateful for and will never forget.”
Following the easing of lockdown restrictions this week, the ground will be open to 4,000 fans a day for Surrey’s next two County Championship fixtures with Middlesex and Gloucestershire, while the club could welcome back full capacity crowds for four Vitality Blast fixtures from June 21 onwards, the date when all restrictions on social distancing are due to be lifted.
Also at the AGM, four new Members were voted onto the Club’s General Committee – Alex Tudor, Ros Trinick, Matt Tee and Jerry Hudson – and David Pakeman was elected as the new Club President, taking over from Ken Schofield CBE, who has served for the past two years. Patricia Garrard was elected as the Deputy President.