The planned construction of floodlights at Grace Road is expected to increase T20 attendances © Getty Images
Leicestershire have reported an increased turnover for 2015 and a small profit – compared with a loss of £225,000 last year – but the auditors of the club’s accounts have warned of a level of debt that could threaten their future viability.
Last season saw Leicestershire win their first Championship game since 2012 amid renewed optimism at the arrival of Wasim Khan as chief executive. While income increased by more than £600,000 (largely down to a bigger ECB grant) and the club recorded a surplus of £4315, the club’s “net liability” stood at almost £350,000.
In Leicestershire’s annual report, independent auditors Grant Thornton UK have noted the club’s reliance on a bank overdraft arrangement with “no specific renewal date”, the withdrawal of which could threaten their ability to continue as a business.
“These conditions, along with the other matters explained in note 1 to the financial statements, indicate the existence of a material uncertainty which may cast significant doubt about the Club’s ability to continue as a going concern,” said the report.
Leicestershire’s accounts for 2014, when the club’s debts were around £300,000, contained a similar note. The lifting of a covenant on Grace Road in the same year does, however, give the county greater security, with the ground valued at £3.65m.
Khan recently referred to the Leicestershire’s precarious position during the process to secure planning permission for floodlights at Grace Road, saying if the club could not run as a sustainable business “we might not be here in five years’ time”.
Earlier this month, Leicestershire secured approval for floodlights, which will enable them to play NatWest T20 Blast fixtures in the evening. The development’s significance is reflected by the fact match receipts actually fell in 2015 – largely due to income from an India tour game the year before – at a time when T20 on Friday nights has become in increasingly important revenue stream for counties.
Another boost to the club’s financial position came on Friday, with the announcement of a five-year naming rights agreement for Grace Road with local company Fischer Future Heat – the first time in the ground’s 137-year history that it will carry the name of a sponsor.
The club’s annual report has been sent to members and a Special General Meeting has been called alongside the Annual General Meeting – itself not an unusual occurrence – for February 24.
Alan Gardner is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @alanroderick
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo