Spectators return this Thursday to Old Trafford for the first county championship game since 2019. On Friday evening, the club has its AGM and we hope that many of you will stay to attend.
Thanks to having a hotel on site, the club were able to host international matches last year and reduce the devastating impact the pandemic had on the club’s finances. The club lost over £17m in revenue compared to the bumper 2019 year yet still produced an operating profit of over £2m. The club’s long term debts are £46.7m, slightly down from 2019 at £48.7m.
Conference events and hotel revenues were down by almost £5m and cricket tickets and hospitality down by £13m.
The reduction in activity has been accompanied by significant cost reductions, which means job losses for many people. It’s been a tough year for sure and credit must go to everyone involved who have made sacrifices and worked hard to make the best of it.
If there has been one thing the last year has shown us, it is that we can’t take anything for granted.
The focus for the Action Group this year is to have members elected to the board. We will continue to highlight member concerns that are raised with us. We have submitted the following questions to the AGM. We want more members involved with the running of the club because constructive participation helps the club to improve, grow and succeed which is surely an aim everyone can support.
We will publicise the campaign on social media but also in person through leaflets at matches and through press releases.
1. Does the club agree in principle with Lancashire vice-president Michael Atherton when he writes:
“I believe supporters should have a presence on the ECB board and on their county clubs. There are obvious practical problems on how such a person should be elected and how easy it would be to represent a group that often has disparate aims and views, but a voice is better than no voice at all”?
If so, will the club take positive steps to encourage members to put themselves forward so that at the next AGM there are candidates for the members to choose from in elections?
2. My name is Alan Higham. I am also a board member of the national Cricket Supporters Association. I’m sad that the Lancashire Action Group thrives whilst the club’s membership falls and issues of contention remain unresolved. My question is for James Sheridan. The senior independent director has a special responsibility to be accessible to members when issues of member concern persist and fail to be resolved through the club’s normal channels. What steps have you taken to consider these concerns with colleagues at the club and are you willing to meet with members who feel it is time to bring this schism to an end?
3. Will the club commit to reform the Member Representation Group (MRG) so that it is entirely elected by the membership instead being chosen privately by club officials and commit to total transparency in the minutes of its meetings with the club? That would make a significant difference to those members who feel the group has failed to resolve the real issues of concern for members.
4. Does the club have evidence that the Member Representation Group is well known amongst the membership and how does the club assess its effectiveness in the absence of any validation from the membership by electing the people who sit on it?
5. Last year LCCC had to navigate very difficult circumstances and full credit must be given to the club’s management and staff for the results from 2020. Can I remind the club though that It published the following statement about Platinum membership:
"What if I can’t afford to become a ‘Platinum Member’ as money is tight? Will I be treated any differently because I couldn’t afford to enter the ‘Platinum Member’ category?
Absolutely not. You are valuable to the Club and we understand that needs must in these circumstances. The only difference will be those that have opted in will receive the extra benefits as outlined in the letter."
(The benefits in the letter being a name on a wall, a reduction on shop merchandise, a free meal and a reduced fee for 2021 membership.)
There are though very important differences that have since come to light given recent decisions by the club. Platinum members have priority access to tickets for the Yorkshire game over even Life Members. Members who asked for a refund last year have not been allowed to attend or ask questions at the AGM.
Did LCCC forget its pledge to members in taking these recent decisions and what does it propose to do to put this right in future?
6. In recent years the club has successfully transformed its business model but lost a lot of members in the process whilst other major counties have grown theirs. Has the club surveyed former members who have left to understand their reasons and what plans does the club have to improve member facilities and promote membership?
7. Members really enjoy watching games at the Lancashire out-grounds. Given no spectators were allowed at Liverpool last year, why is the only first team match outside Old Trafford being played at Sedbergh School, Cumbria instead of a ground within Lancashire’s traditional boundaries?