Thursday, November 19, 2009

Light against free-to-air Cricket

Gloucestershire chairman, John Light, has spoken out against the proposed change to protected sporting events which would see home Ashes series be returned to free-to-air television.

His comments came as the England and Wales Cricket Board welcomed a call by the government to open up a period of consultation over the proposed move.

Speaking to www.gloscricket.co.uk, Light voiced his displeasure at the possibility of the funding structure provided by Sky's contract with the ECB being "sabotaged": "The money from television contracts has ensured a clear and positive pathway from the village green to the County Club."

He spoke of the "fabric" of cricket in Gloucestershire being in danger were funding to be cut, but surely Mr. Light is taking a narrow-minded perspective? Does the chairman not want to see cricket coverage opened up to the masses, so more will be tempted along to Nevil Road? And more will be motivated to get down their local clubs? Thereby strengthening cricket in the county.

This blog believes that any opposition to cricket being taken off subscription channels is merely interested in numbers and figures: they envisage a large hole in the finances that will cause havoc to future projects. Granted, county cricket would take a knock in the pocket from reduced handouts, but surely everyone wants counties to stand on their own two feet? Is not enticing more in through the gates the best way to achieve this? And is putting the show on for all to see not the best way to go about doing so?

Mr. Light cites the financial aid given to grassroots cricket in the county as the case for Sky to continue their monopoly on the game, but providing better facilities is a wasted exercise if no-one is there to use them. Mr. Light suggests it is this that gets people playing cricket: "surely participants are better than couch potatoes?" Indeed sir they are, however, not many ten-year-olds asses the quality of their club's pavilion before deciding to take up the game. Participants are stimulated through inspiration, and only by giving people this inspiration by allowing them the opportunity to witness the game at it's best, will they wish to go out and recreate it.

Granted funding will be reduced. Granted a pavilion or two may not be built. But there are other sources of funding. And perhaps more funding could be available if the counties sacrificed their handouts? Just a thought.

The negative impact that the terrestrial turn off has caused needs to be reversed. Cricket needs to be beamed into everyone's home. Our sport needs mass coverage to gain mass popularity; to gain mass participation. Funding shortage or not, Mr. Light et al. must not be blinded by the impact of finance in the short-term. They must see that the greater good of the sport will be served by a whole nation being able to watch it and a whole nation being able to revere in the wonders of cricket.

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