Essex have twinned their announcement of a substantial overall profit for 2011 with a general concern about the future.
A profit for 2011 of £333,368 compares to a 2010 loss of £22,585 and, while pleased with the turnaround in figures, treasurer Keith Brown sounded a cautionary note about the current trading year.
“Our significant profits of £333,000 reflects a small operating profit of £13,000 supplemented by £300,000 of exceptional income from the ECB,” he said. “While very pleasing it does, however, need to be viewed in the light of losses made in 2009 and 2010 and our expectations that 2012 is going to be a difficult year financially.
“The exceptional income of £300,000 included £200,000 in respect of maintaining our ground to a specific standard. Consequently, this money has been set aside to meet anticipated expenditure in the future.
“We maintained our contribution from membership but match income was down. Our income from one-day games is 89 per cent of gate income. Our reliance on Twenty20 income is greater than any other county and with the reduction in home games from eight to five in 2012 this represents a real challenge to our income.
“In 2012 we will be investing a further £100,000 in cricketing terms by strengthening our squad in the hope that it will bring success in the field.”
In fact, the accounts stated that Twenty20 cricket accounted for 77 per cent of gate income and Clydesdale Bank 40 matches the other 12 per cent. The Colchester and Southend festivals contributed just five per cent of the total gate receipts and the latter venue has now been dropped from the county’s first-class itinerary.
A sum of £2,329,000 was expended on staffing costs, which included wages and salaries for 21 players, and Essex chairman Nigel Hilliard also warned of potentially difficult times ahead. He said: “A decrease in Twenty20 matches over the next two seasons will result in a considerable reduction in gate income, sums that will be difficult to replace.
“Last year’s failure in all competitions was especially disappointing as we appeared, on paper at least, to have an excellent squad. Unfortunately our performances on grass were not impressive and while we continue to be victims of our own success by producing players for England and the IPL, members have been used to better performances.
“Nevertheless, we continue to produce very talented young cricketers and they now need to fulfil their potential if we are to succeed.”