Sport England £195m COVID-19 funding package

Sport England is making up to £195 million of funding available to help the sport and physical activity sector through the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. 

The package includes a £20 million Community Emergency Fund, which is now open for clubs and community organisations to bid into. 

Grants between £300 and £10,000 are available.

Funding sources

This post was just published in the Network’s LinkedIn Group. It’s reproduced here allowing non-members to access. But if you’re involved in running a cricket club, why not join and get FREE access to the knowledge and experience of over 850 members represented…….and share your own too!

We had a post on crowdfunding a few weeks ago. Here is a very helpful starting point guide from Sport England to various funding sources – other than Sport England – including crowdfunding and the Community Shares scheme I referred to in the earlier post.

That conversation was in the context of then flooding issues confronting a number of clubs. Clearly there may be more in similar need now who will be interested in this other announcement from Sport England

And, for others, ECB was mentioned in this article as one of the sports governing bodies committed to investing 30% of broadcasting revenues into grassroots sport. By my reckoning that should mean over £300 million from the Sky Sports/BBC deal for 2020-24

All of these stories featured in yesterday’s weekly bulletin from Funding4Sport which, as previously promoted, is well worth the £16.99 annual subscription

Club clothing survey: results

These are the results of the club clothing survey that took place over January. A small sample size – 75 clubs – compared with our usual surveys but interesting nonetheless. And, we hope, insightful for clubs grappling with these issues this time of the year. Discussion of the results is taking place in the Network now, for members, on LinkedIn here.

In a few words, what is the main challenge for YOUR CLUB
in regard to club clothing suppliers?
Price and delivery times.    We had a very good supplier for years in Kent who unfortunately for Kalibazaar went offline.  We have not found someone as good.    Hopefully All Rounder can do so this year.
Last season the logos appeared with printed badges rather than embroidered badges which they had in 2018. This happened without us being advised of the change. The product therefore didn’t look as good as it had done previously.
I have dealt with club shirts for our club for years now (even set up a website to try enter the market myself).  We have had many suppliers from GN, Surridge, All Rounder and Pendle. Poor delivery timescales and high cost with All Rounder means we will be ending our relationship with them although we do run on a cycle of new senior shirts for both teams every two years and in the past 10 years have had Adidas twice through AR. Currently in discussion with an existing sports supplier who haven’t really tackled the cricket market yet. Although have tried this before and quality was poor. Currently waiting on a sample if not other option looks like GN through Owzat
We purchase the stock ourselves and sell it onto members. That way we all have ‘same’ shirts rather than some turn up in one sponsors shirt, another in right sponsor but old manufacturer
Getting a reasonable quality at a good price.  Sponsorship money usually needs topping up either by the Club or by Members
Getting it all set up initially
Lead time is the main challenge and coordinating the purchase of the kit.
Creating a good relationship
Changing designs and speed of delivery particularly for younger members
Poor communication and long lead times.
Our current contact has left and the company taken over. We wait to see how they will be
Implementing changes with sponsors etc
Sponsors changing and existing sponsors wanting changes in design.   Players not being able to afford/want updated shirts particularly in lower sides and juniors
We would probably not change supplier as at present we have sponsors on contracts.     No point in changing supplier if the sponsors are the same. This gives value to the member.    We also like to offer other items that our supplier can not offer.
Getting a sponsor.
Quality: across manufacturing, delivery, customer service. Very happy with GN after failures with others
Getting the members to part with their cash on club clothing
Getting good quality clothing for a reasonable price
Value for money and service
We have now found a relationship which works really well for us. No minimum order quantities, ability for individuals to order directly online with the supplier. The lead times are very good, with most orders arriving within a week of placing them. The customer service is excellent and the products are a really good quality. We would certainly highly recommend dealing with Gray Nicolls directly.
There isn’t one really we are lucky with a long term sponsor so changes on shirts isn’t an issue, in the past we have had one off sponsors which became a nightmare for shirt retention..
The quality of some of the shirts etc have been poor and some of our more senior players would like something that lasts longer than a season or two…
Getting quality for the price you want to pay.  Biggest disadvantage is if the sponsor decides not to be involved and in getting a new sponsor new clothing is required which as the players buy their own. It all mounts up
Delivery lead times As the kits are made to order.
Getting the right combination of price, quality and delivery lead times
Getting all players to buy it
Delivery times and cost.
We try to balance supporting a local business whilst keeping costs down for our members. When we enter into new sponsorship arrangements, the first year of funds the cost of supplying shirts to paid up members and then for any new members in subsequent years. Our casual kit is not branded, but still good quality – this keeps the cost down. For juniors we hold a set of match shirts that are returned after games. We benefit from having a local cricket shop that uses a local embroidery/printing firm, so lead times are very short and you can order online or in shop. Challenge is managing some players expectations, who want to steer us towards the £45 playing shirts and branded training kit, where we’re looking for uniformity to build cohesion and a shared sense of identity.
Product time
Nothing at the minute, we are sticking with Kitlocker for 2 years. it is the same kit we had with AllRounder for the last two years too.
We use Kukri for our main playing shirt, which we design bespoke in short/long sleeve & then hold stock. We’ve used them for 10 years and the quality/design is excellent in my view and our shirt is unique.    However they fall short on the stock items where we’ve had order errors and prolonged periods where they can’t fill orders in some sizes for their stock items.     This may push us towards AllRounder or similar for our next new shirt.
Price is a bit on the steep side as we don’t have any room for any kickback payment
Consistent quality and readily available
Having recently changed supplier (ahead of the 2019 season) from Adidas to a lesser known brand (Macer) we faced the challenge from those members who were more brand conscious and weren’t too keen to move to a non mainstream supplier.  We overcame this with assurances around quality, price and delivery times – all of which had been challenges with Adidas (via All Rounder)
Ensuring good products with fast lead time, good customer service and reasonable prices
Good prices for quality with quick turnaround for delivery
Overall cost for players/parents. Would like to have more standard club-wear for playing/training across club, but overall cost (and changes in sponsor) means it would be unreasonable to mandate it.
Our Club is in the process of changing our supplier to Moette. We have used a number of suppliers over the years with varying degrees of satisfaction.  Niggles are always about speed of delivery and getting things right first time.
There is no real challenge. We are lucky we have a provider who is less than 10. miles away and offer the ability to purchase both online and in shop. Therefore it works well for our members.
Cost of replacement for junior parents as the children grow.  With numbers of players reducing trying to enforce kit requirements and costs onto people    Small clubs find it hard to attract the best discount rates
Easy to deal with.
Ensuring that size details are accurate
Getting all players to wear current kit.
Trying to get a balance across all the factors raised above. We have had 5 different suppliers over the past 19 years and they all had issues, either with delivery times, cost etc. Having an Online shop and not holding stock is important but members expect prompt delivery and it is normally the smaller suppliers who offer better value and shops etc.
Consistency of quality
The crunch time when many wake up to the fact they need kit, want it tomorrow and so does everyone else and that results in delay and frustration, but thats like world hunger…
We need standard stick holding with a bottle green trim    This is not standard so generally required going to big expensive brand    The badge apparently is complex so the quality of embroidery is an issue – but none of these suppliers can advise how to simplify the badge – they just keep messing it up particularly on caps
Not having to hold stock
Every manufacturer gives promises they cannot keep.
Delivery in later parts of season
Players wanting “known brands” like adidas, even though the delivery time, service and quality of the finished logo and kit was awful !!
Change of sponsorship
No major challenges.  Our arrangement has been in place for severall years.
Quality of kit, consistency of kit, customer service and delivery times
Our players keep their kit for a good period rather than change each year so it makes it challenging to alter our sponsor.
Balancing continuity of designs, sponsors and quality/cost
As a club we don’t make enough money from the sale of kit and can’t set the prices/margin in the club store. The range and service is excellent but any profits currently go to Serious cricket
It is important to be able that lasts, looks good and is of reasonable good qualitt st a realistic price.  It is also great for similar playing kit, training and social wear to be available for colts, ladies and men, via the suppliers online Club Shop.
Struggled for years to find a kit supplier who delivered on commitments. To date, we have had zero issues with Serious and I am no longer looking for a replacement/back up plan which is great. Serious just works in our case.
Finding a company that understands the needs of the small village club
Getting sizes correct and procuring quality gear at acceptable prices
Delivery within one week of order
Lack of communication of changes to supplier, logo colour changes and printing instead of embroidering whilst still paying the same price for lesser quality
We have an existing arrangement which suits our members,  I wouldn’t say we have any challenges at the moment. There are occasional grumbles about about slow delivery but we generally have a good relationship with our suppliers.
Delivery times in peak ordering period.  Ease of set up.  Comparison of different offer/prices
Changing sponsors
We are asked to use the Herts League’s preferred supplier

Club clothing – New Year survey

Did your old coach ever tell you that ‘you can look like a cricketer, even if you can’t play?’  Does that principle extend to looking like a team?  Does uniformity improve the team culture and performance?  Is or could it be a nice little earner for the club through sponsorship and/or supplier kickbacks?  Do you benefit from the brand profile of members wearing club casual and training gear in the local community?

But what are the practical challenges? What brand?  Price or cutting edge design?  Can you get enough people to wear it?  How long does it take to get everyone looking the same – how many generations of club kit are on display in your teams?  Do you need to subsidise?  Does it suck up all your shirt sponsors money?  Are the big brands affordable – will your younger players wear anything less?  Can the smaller or local brands deliver what you need?  And what happens if they withdraw from the market or go bust?  Or just leave your disgruntled members with undelivered kit in July having paid their cash in March.  Or worse still, the club left with piles of unwanted and unsaleable stock.

So what do you do?  What are the considerations?  New to the field?  Or nursing burned fingers? Have you battled through the minefield that is club kit provision?  

Whether yes or no, it is a recurring theme in past discussions and a subject ripe for a definitive view of who is doing what, who the favoured suppliers are, what people are paying and solutions to the key challenges.

So please take a few minutes to respond to this short survey.  All responses will be treated in confidence and only anonymous aggregate results will be published, for Network members and respondents to the survey, by the END OF JANUARY.  

You will find the survey HERE

In the meantime, post your comments in the accompanying discussion for members on the LinkedIn group.

The strange death of English cricket

I have been asked to explain why I say the much quoted data on playing numbers is ‘spurious’. Any number of articles refer to the loss of 150,000 regular players since 2005. The ECB hierarchy were questioned on it again this week in a parliamentary appearance before the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. There was no challenge; those numbers appear to have been internalised by the sport’s leadership.

The 150,000 comes from a selective interpretation of results from Sport England’s Active People survey – a phone canvass of several hundred thousand people a year to find out how many had played any of 30 funded sports in the past month – between 2005 and 2016. You can see the results year-by-year on a one page Excel sheet for yourself.

150,000 is the difference between the peak 428,000 figure (2008-9 as it happens, not 2005) and the final figure from the last survey in 2015-16. It’s a nice round headline-grabbing number. 150,000 fewer cricketers equals cricket in crisis.

But look again at the data. It’s a bit volatile – it jumps around from one year to the next, up and down – so how robust is the methodology? Were you ever phoned by Sport England and asked what sports you played? Do you know anybody who was? And what if you were phoned in February asking about the previous month? Or, in a hurry to get rid of the pollster, you skipped through the list of sports forgetting to admit to the annual office game against the accounts department you mentioned the year before?

Because that’s what it was seeking to measure. Any cricket experience, at any point, from the Test arena to the beach. It’s not asking if you play club cricket once a month. When it did do that – in a separate survey – the figures were far more stable. In fact, they actually registered a statistical increase!

Maybe that’s why Sport England canned the Active People survey after 2016. They would probably say there was a change of priorities and their focus is now on levels of physical activity, not the playing of individual recognisable sports, despite the fact they continue to fund those sports heavily. The cynic might suggest they were not too confident about the credibility of the data.

So why are those in cricket so prepared to accept the 150,000 slow death narrative? For some, it no doubt suits a purpose. On the one hand, it’s not unknown for organisations to exagerrate the scale of the problem to amplify an achievement. Creating an urgent need or recognising a crisis is a basic component of most organisational change strategies. And, on the other, there are those from an ideological perspective who welcome categoric proof of the game’s decline from the end of free-to-air coverage.

The ECB’s Select Committee response points to the complex change environment in which sport operates. That’s increasingly unhealthy and/or time-challenged people doing other or different things. We all see that, so it should be acknowledged when clubs have held things relatively steady in the face of the challenge.

The Network’s recent player numbers survey demonstrates this is the case over the last 10 years. Extrapolating the results, it shows a regular club playing population (aged 16+) of around 180,000 which is consistent with the Sport England club cricket findings. And 300,000 under 16s. Of course, players are far less available than in the past – 64% of clubs say so – and this is hitting the number of teams and Sunday cricket in particular.

But while we can all name clubs that are no longer around, or have merged, the number is surprisingly small. The anticipated shakeout from around 6,000 clubs at the early 2000s launch of Clubmark – which many saw as ECB goldplating Sport England’s safeguarding template to better identify the winners – has not happened. There are still around 6,000 clubs. If there was a big shakeout, it happened much earlier with the disappearance of semi-professional manufacturing company and industry institutional teams in the economic restructuring of the 1980s.

The real challenge now is for cricket to ensure it is in a pivotal position to play a key role in addressing those societal issues, responding to the ‘change environment’. That’s in schools and other community groups and better meeting the needs of those who might embrace, or return to, team sport rather than individual activity or none. Only clubs can provide the local infrastructure to support delivery of that effort. The welcome ‘Inspiring Generations’ ECB strategy bullet points the way forward, but it needs the appropriate funnelling of resources to make it a reality. And a willingness to listen to and build on the club experience.

Are you negligent or just a nuisance?

Bolton v. Stone [1951] is a leading House of Lords case in the tort of negligence, establishing that a defendant is not negligent if the damage was not a reasonably foreseeable consequence of their conduct. Mrs Stone was hit by a cricket ball which had been hit out of the ground; Mr Bolton was a member of the club committee.

This case featured in The Guardian today – see – SHOULD be familiar to everyone who runs a club. It offers some comfort if you have ever worried about balls being hit out of your ground.

But what is foreseeable? And has it changed since 1951 with bigger bats and more building around clubs?

If not negligence, what about nuisance? Another famous piece of case law with a flying cricket balls context is Miller v Jackson [1977] where Mr Jackson was chairman of Lintz CC. Fortunately the lead judge in Court of Appeal was MCC member Lord Denning!

But risks are getting closer to home. It’s one of the reasons we incorporated; to provide the comfort of limited liability for club officers. But that doesn’t remove the increasing risk of dealing with these issues and local authorities’ insistence on expensive netting, covered in a previous discussion here

Perhaps the most definitive survey yet on recreational playing numbers

You will no doubt have seen regular media stories of the ‘slow death of recreational cricket’ variety in recent years. These are often based on spurious data on the number of playing recreational cricketers or disappearance of local town and village cricket clubs.

Ahead of a forthcoming article in The Cricketer on the health of recreational cricket and the potential impact of this summer’s England success, the Cricket Club Development Network is undertaking perhaps the most definitive survey yet on recreational playing numbers and factors influencing those numbers.

Please take the few minutes required to complete the survey on behalf of your club HERE. It needs no special knowledge beyond a reasonable awareness of the playing profile of your club and how this has developed in recent years. If you are no longer or involved or there is someone in you club better placed to respond, then please feel free to forward this message.

The data and information collected will be only be used in aggregate by The Cricketer and the Cricket Club Development Network totally anonymously in any subsequent article unless you are contacted directly by The Cricketer for your explicit consent.

Please complete the survey as soon as possible and by October 13 latest.

Thank you in advance for your time.

John Swannick
Cricket Club Development Network

Cricket Club Development Network: doing what it says on the tin

Ask anyone who runs a cricket club what preoccupies them and the list will look little different to the concerns of anyone running a small (or not so small) business: cashflow; finding the capital to invest in maintaining and improving facilities; recruiting and retaining good people; developing and differentiating a quality product to confront ever increasing competition; navigating the rapidly changing social and business environment in which the organisation operates; and grappling with the growing complexity of regulation and stakeholder expectation. Little wonder that the burden of sustaining the heritage, as temporary guardians, of often historic and socially (and sometimes economically) significant local community institutions, can be a lonely and long-term commitment.

Yet there is little business support specifically geared to the needs of recreational sports clubs in general and cricket clubs in particular. The advisors in local county cricket boards are mainly qualified cricket coaches with limited business experience. Their inevitable focus is on club development in terms of promoting better players, playing facilities, and mediating appropriate policy and practice coming down from the England & Wales Cricket Board. Their role is supportive and can add significant value at the tangents where it touches the clubs’ agenda, but the relationship is rarely core to clubs’ day-to-day operational existence.

The expertise in running cricket clubs is in clubs. Forging professional expertise and personal passion, the volunteers who run clubs are as likely to call on their own experience and knowledge, or seek advice and guidance from the networks that form their personal hinterland, as they are to draw on the professionals in cricket’s governing structure. That expertise involves applying the strategic, management and functional capabilities required to run a business to running a cricket club.

That’s why the Cricket Club Development Network was formed in 2015. Its aim was to do what it says on the tin; to provide a mutual support network for those running clubs committed to broad long-term development objectives. It is run by club officers, with club officers, for club officers; a peer-led, peer-driven community of practice sharing knowledge and experience, sources of information and signposting resources to better enable its members to take on the challenges they face.  It anticipated that pooling and sharing expertise will expand the sum of knowledge across the Network, help fill knowledge gaps in individual clubs, and create a wealth of information and resource that could be cascaded down to all clubs. Although, initially, it has targeted Clubmark or aspiring Clubmark clubs, as an identifiable subset of the 6,000 clubs in the UK more likely to be focused on broad development objectives, the Network is open to officers of all clubs.

It is a virtual network based on LinkedIn, a professional networking platform with groups for almost every conceivable profession, trade and interest. Pre-launch research showed over 50% of club chairmen were already registered on LinkedIn – reinforcing evidence of the professional complexion of the community – and only one click away from Network membership. There was no need to set up an expensive bespoke membership platform; cyberspace is awash with such ‘churches without congregations’.

The Network now has 720 members representing nearly 700 clubs. That’s 40% of all Clubmark clubs around the country from Cornwall to Durham, Norfolk to Dyfed. Our original 50% recruitment target was based on the LinkedIn membership research and the likely attraction of such a network to the broad mass of club officers. Some have been in post for years and may not see the need for a network. Others would inevitably be deterred by its virtual nature.  But many of the current members were new to LinkedIn when they joined and the membership profile traverses the age and experience range of the club officer community. So that 50% target is now a minimum and we are actively seeking members through a variety of channels beyond an inexact mailing list gathered from Play Cricket and ‘word-of-mouth’ promotion by the many advocates in the Network.

The recruitment effort could be transformed by ECB and county board endorsement. But we have never sought that. We have sought open dialogue and regularly update key ECB people on our progress. Inevitably there is suspicion, in some quarters, around an initiative that is not driven or sustained by the centre. Undoubtedly, that is not helped by a rigorously enforced policy to exclude from joining all whose primary purpose is not as a club officer.  However, that policy is important to promoting open, full and frank discussion which would not happen if professionals were part of the Network, even as passive observers. Learning is as valuable from sharing mistakes as successes.

The independence of the Network, mirroring the strongly federated nature of the cricket club community, is a critical part of its value proposition. We are a community of practice, bound by a common interest in growing and promoting the game in the local communities in which our clubs operate. It is a grassroots group, facilitated but not led by any one individual or group of clubs. There is no hierarchy and members represent clubs across the full spectrum from premier league to village green. The core challenges of running a club are largely the same, irrespective of size, and there is as much to learn from successful small clubs as from successful big clubs. The history of communities of practice is littered with examples which failed because the common interest was too weak, diluted by emerging factions, or agendas too obviously driven from the top or outside the community. The Network has to be a forum free to evolve a coherent club perspective and not some imposed internal or external manifesto.

That said, one of the founding objectives of the Network is to promote increased understanding of club interests and to overcome the historical mistrust between clubs and centre which so obviously impinges on effective implementation of any strategy for recreational cricket. That is only deliverable if we are focused on the highest common factors not lowest common denominators. We are pleased the ECB asked for our support in testing the online Clubmark 2017 framework and the new club development portal; most of those involved in that testing were recruited through the Network. We welcomed the opportunity to present well-considered concerns and recommendations, in a Network webinar with ECB’s participation and growth team, to contribute to the success of All Stars Cricket.   And, more recently, there have been webinars with relevant ECB teams on marketing, communication and digital solutions.  But clubs have to be involved in developing, not just delivering, strategy and its component programmes.

There are times and issues in which the clubs can also lead. If the Network can effectively harness the cumulative knowledge, experience and personal and professional hinterlands of those involved. It promises a vastly greater intellectual property resource than is possible at the centre. Take, for example, the considerable challenge represented by the EU General Data Protection Regulation which ALL clubs will need to comply with. It potentially far-reaching consequences for clubs’ membership administration, communication, marketing, team and match management. Clubs using external third-party software for storing information, collecting player availability, and sending emails or App messages will need to have data sharing agreements in place. It is a threat to continuing use of Play Cricket and ClubSpark in their current form. And there are exacting obligations for data storage and reporting of breaches with punitive fines for getting it wrong. In the Network, awareness of the implications was discussed by professional and functional experts in our membership for months before any guidance was issued form the centre. I would expect this to evolve over time into emergent best practice saving time and cost reinventing the wheel.

Harnessing the intellectual property or, at least, collating the captured knowledge, information, and signposted resources from four years activity is beginning shortly. It is already available to members in the back library of past discussions should they wish to wade through the list.  But survey and anecdotal evidence suggest much has been imbibed along the way. I, for one, can testify to the time saved, mistakes avoided, best practice influenced and ideas sown through the Network’s deliberations. I hope, as a result, my club is more future-proofed than it was four years ago. Ultimately, I would like the leaders of several thousand other clubs to be able to say the same.

If you would like to join the Cricket Club Development Network, apply here, connect to me on LinkedIn or email Please ensure your club officer credentials are in your LinkedIn profile or advise me separately.