Horsham Festival of Cricket faces axe again

Sussex batting at Horsham CC on Tuesday. Pic Steve Robards SR1517397 SUS-150721-160013001

Sussex batting at Horsham CC on Tuesday. Pic Steve Robards SR1517397 SUS-150721-160013001

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Sussex have played First Class and one-day matches at both Horsham and Arundel for a number of years, but there is a real risk of that not being the case next season.

With concerns raised over a decrease in takings and hospitality, Sussex chairman May believes there is a high possibility that one festival will be lost next year.

Sussex batting at Horsham CC on Tuesday. Pic Steve Robards SR1517447 SUS-150721-160059001

Sussex batting at Horsham CC on Tuesday. Pic Steve Robards SR1517447 SUS-150721-160059001

He said: “It’s still something that we are discussing.

“We’ve got this dilemma here, on the one hand we would like games outside of Hove but then, on the other, we need to get support there.

“I was looking at the figures recently and our takings at Arundel and Horsham were considerably down last year on the prior year.

“Gate takings were down by 30 per cent, while hospitality wasn’t good at all and interestingly the takings at Hove were very much up.

“We had a big increase in T20 crowds and indeed our County Championship gates were also up last year at Hove.

“So, I’m afraid it’s that old cliché ‘use it or lose it’ and unless we get significant sponsorship, it is highly likely we will only be playing at one festival ground in 2016.”

The Horsham festival was only saved in 2014 at the 11th hour as close to £15,000 was raised in around two weeks after it looked set to be cancelled. That included a donation of serval thousand by an anonymous benefactor.

The switch to starting LV=County Championship games to Sundays has increased the problem due to the fall in corporate hospitality revenue.

Around 20,000 people attended the annual festival at Arundel in June, and, while the Horsham Festival of Cricket gate was down due to the wash out of the Royal London One-Day Cup match with Lancashire being abandoned without play in July, they still recorded a profit of £8,000.

Sussex chief executive Zac Toumazi feels the festivals are an important part of the season but believes more sponsorship needs to be found.

He said: “Festival cricket is an interesting challenge. We all love it and all want it but very few want to pay for it.

“I am a massive supporter of it but the economics have to be considered.”

Horsham chairman Chris said: “We are always keen to have Sussex Cricket at Horsham. It’s great that we can welcome them to our club each year. I am meeting with Sussex chief executive Zac Toumazi later this week and hopefully we can come to an agreement then.”

The fixtures for next season are expected to be announced within the next week.

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