Weather hits Glamorgan hard
10:49am Tuesday 10th July 2012 in Sport
GLAMORGAN chief executive Alan Hamer has laid bare the dire consequences this summer's poor weather has had on county cricket - estimating a potential six-figure loss for his club.
Rain has wreaked havoc on the lucrative Friends Life t20 season, with Glamorgan - or their short-form alter-ego the Welsh Dragons - the worst hit of all 18 teams.
They lost five of their 10 matches to rain, including three money-spinning home fixtures.
While that disrupted their attempts to qualify for the quarter-finals, it is the knock-on effect on their end-of-season balance sheet that is perhaps most concerning at a time when every penny counts in the domestic game.
"Cricket is effectively a tourism industry and when it rains, you don't play and the people don't come," he said.
"Cricket has been very badly affected by the rain. Over the past six weeks revenues have fallen well below budget because we haven't been able to get games on.
"You don't get ticket sales and, just as importantly, you lose out on secondary spends in the club shops and bars.
"I would suggest over a season with this poor weather, you're looking at a six-figure hit."
Insurance is available for counties to shield themselves against lost income but the cost of such policies is on the rise - and is likely to jump again after the downpours this year.
Counties do not typically insure all matches, instead targeting marquee fixtures and local derbies in a bid to ease the outgoings.
Hamer is glad for the safety net, but it can only cushion the blow to a certain extent.
"You can insure, and we have done so, but clearly there is a cost-benefit in terms of premiums," he said.
"We insure key matches so our financial loss is minimised but we are a cricket club and it is important that we play cricket. If you don't play, you still incur running costs such as staff.
"The effects going forward can also be substantial: for Twenty20 you can get a lot of casual customers and if their first experience is a bad one, they won't come back. You can't insure against that.
"Premiums have also increased significantly over the last couple of years - this isn't the first season we've had bad bad weather - and heaven knows what they will be next year. It could cost a five-figure sum to insure one game."
The importance of the Twenty20 calendar to the first-class counties is undeniable, but there is fierce debate over what form it should take in future.
The benefits of the current dedicated block of games are established: primarily the ability to put together a specialist squad, including big-name overseas players, for a short period.
Yet the much-discussed Morgan Report, released earlier this year and still the focus of passionate debate within the game, suggested an 'appointment to view' model - with games spread across the season in prime slots such as Friday nights and Sunday afternoons.
Hamer, following this season's travails, is a cautious convert to the idea.
"I was undecided as to what was the best route but in unsettled weather like we've had, you could lose 50% of your Twenty20 matches like that.
"But the law of averages suggests we would have a good chance if we had one home game every two weeks. You can't control the weather but you can minimise the risk over the course of a season.
"You also want to play your most popular product on a the best nights of the week and Fridays would certainly be preferable. You would expect a good crowd and the commitments on people's time and pockets would not be too onerous."
Glamorgan have one more chance to cash in on the shortest format this season, hosting finals day for the first time on August 25.
A damp squib that weekend does not bear thinking about.