How can cricket clubs ride out the impact of coronavirus? It’s a question that seemingly has no answer. We don’t know when we’ll all be able to meet up, let alone start recreational sport back up again.
So, as a cricket club that has seen its membership fees, bar takings and sponsorship income evaporate quicker than you can say Covid-19, it’s just a case of wait-and-see, right?
It’s a tricky balance for clubs between acknowledging the serious wider concerns over their members’ health and livelihoods with quietly weeping at the balance sheets that have flatlined.
There is room for both, of course, and the worst thing a cricket club can do right now is nothing.
Yes, there is no cricket. Yes, the clubhouse is closed. Yes, we haven’t a scooby-doo if the season will materialise at all.
The good news is that you can plan, you can communicate and you can be ready.
1. Keep in touch
Your cricket club website and social media channels should be hot right now, despite the complete absence of any games.
Your members and supporters are at home, bored, missing cricket and largely stuck indoors. So, help them. Entertain them. Inform them.
A few examples that caught my eye from across UK club cricket…Chester Boughton Hall have launched a podcast, do a lockdown quiz and offer stay at home cricket drills.
Use a video conferencing platform like Zoom (free for up to 100 participants) to keep in touch with team-mates, run coaching sessions or committee meetings. Why not?!
Blend what you offer – ECB/YCB updates, allied with entertainment will be appreciated. Be consistent so web visitors know your club website is both open and rocking.
Blast articles across social media a few times a day to improve the chance of catching your members between their Joe Wicks session and afternoon Owzthat dice match.
2. Plan for Fundraising
This is a prickly pear but let’s jump in and grapple it anyway. The fact is a club’s members are all indoors, worried about coronavirus, thinking about their jobs and wondering what on earth the future will look like.
These are wholly legitimate concerns, will dominate their thinking but it doesn’t mean they don’t care about their local cricket club too.
Cricket clubs will have suffered a complete halt of income and that is just not sustainable, particularly for those who already tread a fine financial line each summer.
Prepare a fundraising campaign in the coming weeks/months. Does it feel awkward to be asking for money at a time when the country is in such turmoil? Probably.
Should you do it (tactfully) anyway?
Unless your club coffers are spilling with gold. In which case, all power to you but that doesn’t reflect the national picture.
I’m assuming your cricket club is on the case with funding but if you need a summary of what’s out there, I’ve written a cricket funding guide including feedback from a few clubs who have been successful.
Clubs that use the Pitchero platform can raise funds through their online shops by setting up a product that includes option to agree to Gift Aid.
Other online tools like Justgiving are an alternative means. The legitimate Gift Aid collection is the key as it boosts the donation by 25%.
A word of advice on tone. Don’t just ask for £££.
Explain why your club needs it. Explain why your club finances are taking a hit and how a donation from each member across the club would make an enormous difference.
Here’s a well-written example from Liphook & Ripsley CC that might provide some inspiration.
You could tie in a charity element with a percentage of donations going towards the NHS or a local cause too.
3. Support your sponsors now
Coronavirus will be a significant blow to the future of your cricket club’s sponsors. That clearly has the potential to massively affect your own income down the line.
Companies will be re-assessing their priorities, spend and trying to second-guess a whole host of contingency plans.
It’s true we’re all confined indoors and many businesses are closed with furloughed staff but whatever your club can do for your sponsors will be appreciated.
Have those conversations. Support local businesses, however you can, as it’s a perilous time.
Is there anything your sponsors are doing that’s newsworthy? Any offers or discounts that needs flagging up to your members via an email, tweet or website article?
It will depend on the sector or industry of your sponsors but not everything has ground to a halt.
Support your sponsors in the coming weeks and months and it won’t be forgotten down the line.
4. Ace your player recruitment
Cricket clubs might be in a weird kind of frozen reality but the sweet ‘tok’ of a cricket ball being ushered to the boundary will eventually be heard again.
A cricket club’s die-hards will be there like a rocket, padded up and gagging for cricket again.
But, the ebb and flow of selection means clubs always have to rely on those who weren’t born in a bath of linseed oil and don’t think in terms of Wisdens, strike-rates or googlies.
One of recreational cricket’s greatest challenges will be retaining those casual cricketers who have had a chance to think about other forms of entertainment and are at risk of never returning.
Now’s the time to think about how your cricket club will be in the best position to attract as many members as possible.
- Review your website – is there a membership section? Does it ‘sell’ the joys of playing at your club?
- Can you get short videos from players on why they joined and love it?
- Can you be more flexible on payment options?
- Are there more benefits you could add to entice more members?
I think there’s cricket clubs who are waiting it out, feel awkward about asking for help from members because of coronavirus and are largely on pause.
That’s an understandable path but one fraught with complications down the line. It’s been great to see on social media how a breadth of clubs have responded positively and made the most of an awful situation.
So….that’s it for now but I’ll be posting more ideas and advice here on Cricket Yorkshire so check back in.
If you’ve found one nugget for your cricket club to take away then my job here is done.
Cricket clubs face a worrying next year and beyond but there are proactive ways to be in the best possible health for when cricket resumes.
(Photo credit: Zoom call of the pooches by visuals)
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