Lancashire chief executive Jim Cumbes has warned an English county club could go bankrupt after he announced a post-tax loss of £546,000 ($804,900) for 2009.
The annual report of the Old Trafford-based club, which is hosting England's [ Images ] second Test against Bangladesh starting on Friday, noted it was almost £8 million in debt. The club is also undergoing a £32 million ground renovation.
Asked if a county club could soon become bankrupt, Cumbes told reporters on Thursday: "Without a doubt, and it won't be a small one, it will be a big one. It's always possible. Yorkshire have a lot of debt at Headingley, Durham are in a lot of debt, we are in debt."
Lancashire did not host a Test or 50-over international in 2009, which contributed to its significant loss for the financial year.
Most of the 18 first-class counties are heavily subsidised by the England and Wales Cricket Board's (ECB) annual payment of around £1.4 million. Without that most clubs would not survive, although 2009 is Lancashire's second loss only in 22 years.
The bold, brash new rectangular stand with red casing and glass frontage sits next to the traditional, aesthetically pleasing pavilion built in 1895. The two structures symbolise Lancashire's struggle to modernise yet manage their huge debt.
Lancashire have for some time realised they need to make money outside cricket and rock bands Green Day [ Images ] and Muse are playing concerts at the ground in June and September respectively.
There are now an extra four clubs with Durham, Glamorgan, Gloucestershire and Hampshire also on the ECB's test hosting roster so earning opportunities are reduced. Previously six clubs vied for international host status, which is their major source of revenue.
The strain being felt by established clubs like Lancashire and Yorkshire to update their grounds in order to remain as an international host venue is financially crippling. Warwickshire, Nottinghamshire and Surrey are other test grounds that have invested heavily on facilities at a cost.
"Some grounds more than others cannot afford what is being asked," Cumbes said. "Trent Bridge's staging agreement (with the ECB) finishes next year, they're frightened to death, because they have no other source of income but cricket yet have a ground they've got to maintain."
Referring to the new £15 million stand named The Point, Cumbes said he understood that the club's push for modernisation at the expense of tradition would divide opinion.
"We have not had anybody call it an eyesore, but we have had a few say they don't like it," Cumbes said.
"We wanted it (the new stadium) to be different to any other ground. We wanted it to be bold," he added.