Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Pricing the average bloke out of cricket

I have just seen the prices for the coming series versus Australia and quite frankly I am incandescent with rage! For those not in the know, tickets to Lord's for the Grandstand or (the place where The Middle Stump lads like to hang out), The Mound are now three figures. Yep, a hundred squid to go and watch a day at the cricket. Even the cheaper seats in the Compton or Edrich Lower, where the view is not great are £80. Cricket is pricing out the average man.

Lord's...pricing out Joe Public?

Now there are those who will say that compared to football this isn't bad value. That game sold its soul many years ago I'm afraid, and the bubble will one day burst when Abramovich and Co get bored. For a bloke going to cricket with a group of his mates, not that this can happen these days with the bloody ballot, so let's make that mate singular, having downed the disco piss lager at £4 a pint now you can't take your booze in these days, bought an overpriced lunch, commuted in from the Home Counties you are looking at £250 for a day out. No wonder no one can afford to go for a lap dance apres play. All this in the middle of a double dip recession. The boys who priced the tickets at Lord's are no doubt in touch as much with the people of Britain, as the other Old Etonians running the country.

By the way, I did try and research this information on Twitter being the conscientious chap that I am, but please, please don't try and search Lord's on Twitter. It is like an online Jehovah's Witness!

I don't want to hark on about 'back in the day', but it was only 1993 when I paid £10 for a seat to watch a far better Australian side than the boys who will be on a Qantas flight come June, along with six of us from our cricket club. Ok, it was a limited view but it was underneath the dressing room at The Oval, to the right as you look from the pitch at the old pavilion and all you couldn't see was fine leg below us. However, seeing as Merv was fielding down there for most of the day we regularly leant over the barrier to yell "SUMO". We took in our own booze - forty cans of lager and between three of us we proceeded to down a mere thirty six tinnies over the day. We all had a fantastic day out.

SUMO

Cricket is becoming money obsessed. Already we have a generation who aren't aware of the current England team. In my son's Under 11 team, although they love playing, only the ones whose parents are privileged enough to afford Sky Sports know the team inside out. Sadly, not many of the others do. When I was 11, I knew every player thanks to the coverage on the BBC, along with players who played for counties thanks to their showing of Gillette or Benson and Hedges Cup games. Oh to hear the dulcet tones of Richie Benaud!

On the flip side the ECB will say how much money is coming into the game from Sky. Only time will tell, but in twenty years when we have lost a generation to the game, will it be too late?

A wonderful sight

Cricket needs to get back on terrestrial tv and pronto. T20 is the cash cow of the counties, but why can't that be shown on the BBC, ITV or Channel 4? Get the kids back involved. How good was the 2005 Ashes? The best series possibly in the history of the game, and it was shown on every television in the land. The people of the UK fell in love with the game and cricket became the summer sport again. Even before that series a load of us piled down to Lord's to watch England take on Bangladesh. I can't remember prices off the top of my head but considering the oppo, it wasn't expensive.

Lord's will sell out, so the administrators will no doubt justify their position to their paymasters, but seriously cricket please don't take the piss!

11 comments:

  1. Hear flippin' hear. My thoughts exactly - it's unbelievable that cricket is not on terrestrial TV. I remember all the signs people were holding up in 2005 - 'Football's rubbish' etc. The ECB need to stop going the way of the BCCI, not expect huge amounts of money from Channel 4/BBC and put it back on proper telly! Late night rant over!

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  2. Completely agree with this sentiment.
    Bring back Tony Lewis and Jack Bannister!

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  3. I agree entirely! My family cannot afford Sky, let alone a day at the test, even just for myself. I sit around in the summer with my lickle digital radio in the garden, which is all fine by me, but i'd rather watch and see the action! The powers that be need to take into account the common reasonable man and sort it out. Football is also a joke, and i do not want Cricket to go the same way, but yet sadly, it is.

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  4. As a man sickened and robbed by the amazing escalator style prices charged by clubs and one particular North London club now owned by the Denver Dough Trouserer Stanley syrup Kroenke, I fear cricket is going the same way. Believe me the only winners will be the players and trousering boards and associations. All the sky money in football has gone into players and agents pockets not for the good of the game. Greed is good for sports administrators and with the transfer system following that of football, cricket agents will engineer moves in their (own) clients best interests. Demand and supply they cry. Bollocks its greed and dough trousering pure and simple.

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  5. Fantastic article which I totally agree with. Everything is to maximise profit today with no thoughts about the long term consequences for the game in the future. Bad times

    How on earth can cricket retain its position in the country when half of the next generation can not watch it on TV and no normal person can afford to attend a day at an international cricket match?

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  6. Premier League Football isn't on terrestrial TV and it hasn't lost a generation has it? the highlights of both cricket and football are available via terrestrial - cricket at a more family friendly time slot too mind. T20 is also on terrestrial twice a day for 8 weeks a year in the form of the IPL. Thats most of the top world players don't forget!

    Don't forget that non of the terrestrial broadcasters even made a bid for the last round of TV coverage either. The will isn't there.

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  7. Thanks for the comments chaps. It seems to have struck a chord with quite a few of you. Steve James on Twitter has pointed out with a valid point that Sky's money is keeping the county game alive, so there are two sides to this story.

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  8. A hundred quid to watch a cricket match ! I remember when you could go on holiday to Scarborough with 10 friends for a fortnight, have a fish supper every night, pay for 8 hour net sessions every day and still come home with enough change to buy a Ford Anglia. London is the capital of Rip Off Britain. Keep away I say.

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  9. Dan, an excellent article again but judging by the replies there is some confusion over the issues of the cost of going to a test match at lords and the fact that cricket is shown on Sky. These facts whilst not mutually exclusive are not necessarily connected, in fact, if the live cricket only being shown on sky is reducing interest in cricket (the lost generation) than demand for tickets would reduce meaning a reduction in seat prices.

    The reality is that Lords is a unique situation as it is a members only club where the members have a right to view the cricket at no cost (yes thats right, they don't have to pay like the rest of us). Additionally for the Australia tests the members have the right to purchase 2 tickets each before the remaining tickets are released to the general public. As there are 18000 MCC members currently, even allowing for those members that do not attend due to location, age, interest or infirmity this will still leave a few thousand that do go. If a large portion of these choose to use their right to purchase tickets this will results in only a small percentage of the seats being available to the general public meaning demand far outweighs supply and a ticket price of £100 is going to be the going rate.

    I will say that as a londoner who relocated to Bristol, you should consider yourself lucky that you have the option to attend a test match in your vicinity, indeed with the option of the Oval as well. If I want to watch England take on Australia in a test match in 2013 I have the option of either of the London grounds or a trip to Manchester or Nottingham which, as you will appreciate will make the cost far more than the £250 you quoted in the article.

    With regard to the Sky issue, its been mentioned already, but without sky where would English cricket be? The test side would not have the money investment available to be challenging for the number 1 position, county sides (the future of the test teams) would not have the finances to operate in the current format (meaning less investment in acadamies, infrastructures and 2nd XI's) and we would be left with those players that have no other career choices playing smash & bash 20/20 games. As for grass roots cricket, the sky issue has no real financial effect as the majority of those of us who play at this level know, we don't get investment beacuse of the sky money in the game.

    If you doubt my statement that county cricket would not survive, look at the finances of all counties that don't own test match grounds, without the ECB handout they would not be able to continue in their current format. An example of this is Gloucestershire. I use them as an example as they are my local county now and I know the figures. They disclosed in their last published accounts that in the 12 months to Sept 2011 they made a profit of £3,000 which seems ok until you realise their ECB handout was £1.6million!! What happens if cricket coverage goes back to terrestrial TV, they will pay a fraction of the price which will reduce the money available to counties, ergo no future for the counties, no future england players!!

    Whether will like it or not cricket's future IN ITS CURRENT format is reliant on Sky and therefore, if you are a cricket lover and want the sport to remain one of the major sports in this country coverage needs to remain on Sky

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