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We have received a number of emails and calls recently from members asking how the club intends to reward the loyalty of its 2020 members, who following the recent government confirmation that sports stadia will remain closed to crowds until October 1 at least, are now clear in the knowledge that they are highly unlikely to be able to watch any live cricket this year.

We fully understand that all our members, who have maintained such patience and loyalty throughout these extremely difficult and unprecedented times, will be hugely disappointed with this news, as are we all at the club. However, whist this a matter far beyond our control, it is our responsibility to ensure that we do all in our power to reward your commitment and make you feel valued moving forward.

At the club’s Annual General Meeting, held as an online event in June, and again at the second of our two Online Members’ Forums, held just a fortnight ago, we advised members that due to the devastating impact that the coronavirus pandemic has had on the club’s financial position, no refunds would be issued on 2020 membership fees paid.

For those of you unable to watch the AGM, here is the extract from the Treasurer’s speech that covered membership subscriptions:

“This brings me to a question that a number of members have very understandably been asking us. What will happen to our 2020 membership subs. Will we get a refund?

As I hope you have noticed, we have been trying really hard to provide some membership value throughout what should have been the cricket season

There has been a lot of exclusive online content for members. This has including buying from Sky footage from famous Middlesex matches which I hope some of you have seen and enjoyed. We have arranged features such as teams from past generations getting together on Zoom to reminisce, plus other interviews, quizzes etc. It’s obviously not the same as watching cricket, but it’s our attempt to make you feel that your continued membership is appreciated.

We will be doing our very best to ensure that if the county season begins, we will provide live coverage to members for all home matches. Not just a fixed camera, but one that follows the ball. We are investing in laying the fibre optic cabling needed to deliver this to you. It won’t quite be Sky quality, but it should be a picture quality that will allow you to sit at home listening and watching the action. If we have to play behind closed doors, that’s a way that all members can still feel involved.

I’m not pretending for one moment that online content is of equivalent value to free access to Lord’s and to our outgrounds for home matches.

In an ideal world we would look at a partial refund of your membership subscriptions. However given our financial position, it simply isn't realistic to make this offer. We simply don't have the level of cash reserves to afford refunds.

I was asked if we can borrow the money for refunds and pay it back out of future year’s revenue. For a start, unlike every other county, we don’t have a fixed asset against which we can borrow. So borrowing is likely to be expensive. But more fundamentally, we don't want to go into debt.

That would mean a members' club borrowing money in order to give money to its members. Then the Club would have to pay interest on the money and repay the capital out of future funds we would otherwise be spending on supporting Middlesex cricket at all levels, which is what we exist to do.

So no, I’m afraid we simply can’t afford refunds. However I promise we will look at how we can recognise the shortfall in value for money this year in what we offer next season and beyond. Once the season is over and we know whether we have had any ticket sales for this year, along with greater clarity on future ECB funding levels, your Board will try to find a way to compensate you. I’m not going to speculate now on what that compensation will be; there are too many unknowns. But we will do our best to strike the right balance between giving your fair value for your membership but without risking our financial security.

So to summarise, it is the combination of the generosity of our employees and our members, combined with the furlough scheme that allows me to confirm that we will survive this pandemic. Yes we will be financially weakened, as will every other county. But we will be able to recover.”

The reference at the AGM to the generosity of our employees related to their agreement to take pay cuts of between 17% and 20%.

One further important point is that the proportion of our overall income that comes from membership subscriptions is higher than anyone else’s, indeed double that of the average of the other 17 County Clubs. This is of course because, unlike the other counties, we cannot generate revenue from owning our main ground. A county whose membership subscriptions comprise only a very small part of their income will find it far easier to make the gesture of a refund.

Since informing members of this news, and upon explaining the club’s financial difficulties in light of Covid, the support we have received from members has been overwhelming. There is a real appreciation from within the membership that this is your club, which belongs to you the members, and there is a genuine understanding that the issuing of refunds would severely run the risk of the club falling into even greater financial difficulties.

We expect to know in mid to late September what impact this season will have on the ECB payments made to each county. This in turn will allow us to calculate what we can afford to do in terms of providing some form of compensation, such as a reduction in subs for 2021 and perhaps beyond. It simply would not be prudent to make any commitment before we know what our future cashflow is likely to be.

Once we are aware of our ongoing position, our Board of Directors, with assistance from relevant staff and management, will work on a loyalty rewards package that you deserve, which will see your commitment rewarded, after you have given us so much support, loyalty and understanding when it has been most needed.

My thanks go to all members. Together, we can ensure Middlesex not only comes through this crisis, but goes on to flourish afterwards for many, many years to come. There are many challenges to overcome before we reach that point. However, you have our assurance that we will be doing all that we can to say thank you properly to all those members who have stood with us through the pandemic and continue to offer their unwavering support for the long term future of Middlesex Cricket.

We look forward to advising you of our ongoing rewards and loyalty benefits as soon as we are able to do so.

Richard Goatley
Middlesex Cricket

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