Lancashire lifted the lid on the scale of the financial worries that have unsettled everyone at the club over the last two years when they published accounts for 2010 revealing a record loss of £2.114m.
The projected figures for 2011, the year when they were finally crowned county champions after a famously long wait – despite the lengthy and costly legal challenge to the redevelopment of Old Trafford which left club officials with a battle even to cover the cost of the players’ wages – could be even worse.
But the bleak picture came with a reassuring message that there will be a long-term gain to compensate for the current pain, thanks to the two crucial off-field successes that sandwiched September’s dramatic County Championship breakthrough in Taunton – High Court victory in July, followed by the award of a 2013 Ashes Test to Old Trafford.
Without the latter, the gift of the England and Wales Cricket Board’s major match group which came as a direct result of that long-awaited legal triumph to secure the go-ahead for the redevelopment of the ground, Lancashire’s prospects would remain grim, or worse.
But the return of the Ashes to Manchester in 2013 means that Lancashire should be able to start selling tickets next September, and thereby making some serious inroads into their five-figure debts.
Lee Morgan, Lancashire’s highly-regarded finance and operations director, said: “The redevelopment was critical in securing the future of Old Trafford. The transitional period in building the new stadium was always going to create huge challenges, although the investment will result in the club being well placed for the long-term in ensuring international cricket remains at Old Trafford in a competitive and tough market.”
He added that The Point, the bright red conference and banqueting facility which opened in the summer of 2010, has already started to generate much-needed revenue, with a high-profile example of the impact it has made coming only last week as Manchester United popped across from the other Old Trafford to stage their celebration of Sir Alex Ferguson’s 25 years in charge.
Lancashire took out a £10m loan to pay for The Point, but the rest of the £32m cost of the redevelopment has already been guaranteed, the majority of it from Tesco who are to build a superstore between the two Old Trafford grounds.