Portsmouth Cricket Club chairman: We’re financially strong, but we’re now reliant upon goodwill of our members

Portsmouth Cricket Club chairman Rick Marston is ‘praying’ the coronavirus crisis eases enough to allow some games at his club to be played this summer.

Wednesday, 1st April 2020, 1:45 pm
Updated Friday, 3rd April 2020, 12:37 pm
Portsmouth v Ventnor in the Southern League Division 1 at St Helens Field. Picture: Neil Marshall

Though admitting the club are currently in a ‘financially firm’ position, the huge uncertainty surrounding when grassroots sport will return is naturally a concern further down the line.

Marston is hoping Portsmouth CC’s role in their local community will help weather the financial storm created by the lack of daily bar takings once the 2020 competitive season starts in early May.

‘We are lucky at the moment,’ he outlined. ‘We are financially strong. We are very much a community club and the community at the moment is sticking with us.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Portsmouth CC host Hook & Newham Basics at their St Helens Field ground in 2019. Picture: Chris Moorhouse

‘How long we can do that if there are no games, no cricket, no bar takings, it’s difficult to know.’

Last year Portsmouth CC splashed out around £12,000 on a brand new heavy duty roller in a bid to ensure high quality wickets.

Of that, the club paid half themselves - the cash generated from their weekly 100 Club draw - and the other half came via an ECB grant.

Portsmouth have been repaying that £6,000 loan via monthly instalments, but now the ECB have said they can defer forthcoming payments until next year.

That is just one of the ways the game’s governing body is attempting to help grassroots cricket in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis that has virtually shut down sport worldwide.

‘We might well be looking at deferring some payments,’ said Marston. ‘The ECB are also offering fresh loans, but I’m not sure at the moment we’ll apply. We might be unusual amongst clubs at our level there.

‘It’s great the ECB are looking at these measures, though.

‘Normally they only offer loans if you want to improve your facilities or buy some equipment - solid things - not day-to-day running costs. But now they are offering the loans to make sure clubs survive.’

Marston revealed that the adult cricket teams at Portsmouth are not the main source of revenue.

‘Our colts cricket have around 120 members, and they bring their parents down on a sunny evening at St Helens. We have BBQs, the bar is open, it’s all very sociable.

‘Colts cricket and bar takings are massive revenue sources for us.

‘Friday nights when we have training and Saturday nights are fantastic nights for bar takings.

‘The cricket season is so short as well, it’s squeezed into the middle of the football seasons.

‘If we don’t get any cricket played at all this year, it could be very damaging for the game in the future.

‘People are going to get out of the habit of playing cricket - kids, adults. It’s a massive fear.

‘Even if we could get half a season that would be something. But even June is looking a bit optimistic for a start date.

‘Just playing any cricket would be fantastic - friendlies, league games, anything.’

As previously mentioned, the 100 Club is another vital source of income at Portsmouth CC. Members pay a monthly fee and half the cash is redistributed in prizes and the other half is put towards ‘projects’’ such as the heavy roller.

‘At the moment everyone is still happy to pay into the 100 Club,’ reported Marston.

‘Also, some of our adults and colts pay a monthly membership sum. At the moment everyone is paying but there could come a point when people’s economic circumstances could change if they feel there’s a good chance we’re not going to play any cricket.

‘We are very much reliant upon people’s goodwill at present. At the moment our members are our lifeblood.

‘We feel we are genuinely part of the local community - we have strong bonds, strong ties. I’d say 90 per cent of our members cycle or walk to the ground, it’s a real community club.’

Portsmouth CC’s first team play in the second tier of the Southern Premier League - the top competition for Hampshire clubs.

Last year they finished third, level on points with runners-up Sparsholt but with an inferior points-per-game average.

In recent years, the club have been working their way back up the SPL’s four-division structure. They won the Division 3 title in 2013 and the Division 2 silverware two years later.

Their only SPL top flight championship win came in 1993, helped by the runs of former Hampshire batsman Jon Ayling.

A message from the Editor

Thank you for reading this story on portsmouth.co.uk. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

With the coronavirus lockdown having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive - we are more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription.

Subscribe to portsmouth.co.uk and enjoy unlimited access to local news and information online and on our app. With a digital subscription, you can read more than 5 articles, see fewer ads, enjoy faster load times, and get access to exclusive newsletters and content. Visit our Subscription page now to sign up.

Our journalism costs money and we rely on advertising, print and digital revenues to help to support them. By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.