Yorkshire bullish on debt despite another big loss: Richard Gibson

Yorkshire have bucked the recent trend of counties reporting annual profits with another hefty deficit – although their £460,000 hit is nowhere near as severe as forecast.

The club’s hierarchy had anticipated informing members that another seven-figure sum had been added to the overall debt – which now stands in excess of £19million – at their annual general meeting next month.

Indeed, Yorkshire had budgeted to lose £1.08million in 2011, following a record £2million in 2010, and were unperturbed by that prospect. “Christ, 10 years ago we were bankrupt, on the verge of falling off a cliff,” chairman Colin Graves said, in advance of the club accounts being published.

“Now, we’re a long way from bankrupt. This past year was always going to be a very difficult year – we are going to lose a million quid but we knew that when we didn’t have a Test match.”

So the actual figures will be seen as something of a triumph by Graves – the multi-millionaire chairman of supermarket chain Costcutter, who effectively bankrolls the club – and the rest of Yorkshire’s board, as they now move towards implementing plans to erase the arrears, via structured repayments, by 2019.

It is also hoped the appointment of a new chief executive can help them back into the black over the next twelve months.

Graves has fulfilled a dual role as an austerity measure since the departure of Stewart Regan, who resigned 18 months ago to take up a similar post with the Scottish Football Association. But the process to unearth Regan’s successor is to begin once the club has a new commercial director in place, and an outside chance remains that the position will be filled before the County Championship season starts in early April.

Graves, who also sits on the ECB’s full board as representative for Category A grounds, said: “I only did it to make sure we kept the costs down. Any Test match ground – with all the legislation, health and safety issues, and dealings with the International Cricket Council – needs a chief executive to run the place.”

Yorkshire’s coffers have suffered from a lack of Test matches in recent years while the most recent, the neutral encounter between Pakistan and Australia in 2010, proved a financial disaster – with ticket sales poor and the match only creeping into a fourth morning.

However, although this summer’s Headingley Test between England and South Africa running from August 2-6, and in the middle of the Olympics, also appears a hard sell, tickets have gone well thus far (more than 25,000 were sold before Christmas).

And the club are confident that the contest can be the focal point of a year they believe can reap a circa £0.5million profit – the last time they hosted an England Test in 2009, Yorkshire made £700,000 for the year.

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Another Australian is likely to join Yorkshire’s playing staff this summer if and when Phil Jaques is verified by the England and Wales Cricket Board as a local player.

Jaques, 32, was signed as the club’s overseas player on a two-year deal earlier this winter but has since retired from first-class cricket with New South Wales and wants to change status, using his British passport.

It is understood the move developed after Yorkshire’s bid to sign an unnamed fast bowler on Kolpak terms were scuppered by the player’s late change of heart.

So attention at Headingley has turned to recruiting an Australian keen on showing their worth in English conditions ahead of the 2013 Ashes – Mitchell Johnson, a Twenty20 target for Glamorgan, has been discussed, as has Doug Bollinger.

A younger model would no doubt relish working with new Yorkshire coach Jason Gillespie – although who is available and for how long will not be determined until after Australia’s tour party to the Caribbean is named at the end of February.

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Former Australia limited-overs player Luke Ronchi’s revelation that he intends to become available for New Zealand at the earliest opportunity is the latest in a flurry of nationality switches.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Ronchi, 30, born in Manawatu but raised in Western Australia, becomes available for the Black Caps on January 13, 2013, exactly four years after the final of his seven appearances for Australia.

Unheralded associate and affiliate countries are using player ancestory to improve talent pools ahead of March’s ICC World Twenty20 qualifiers, with Geraint Jones representing Papua New Guinea, the country of his birth, having not played for England since December 2006.

Ronchi’s former state team-mate Theo Doropoulos joked on Twitter: “I might follow Luke’s lead and quit cricket to try and break into my native Greek national team. And get paid in olives and lamb.”

But there is a serious side to recruitment, with Durham’s nine-cap Aussie Michael Di Venuto and Middlesex all-rounder Gareth Berg taking advantage of their heritage to play for Italy. Another Middlesex man Tim Murtagh is now available for Ireland, after securing a passport, but was not selected.

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