The historic Horsham Cricket Festival has less than two weeks to be saved after Sussex County Cricket club admitted it was under significant threat of being axed.
Sussex have played matches at Horsham’s Cricketfield Road since 1908, but that could be a thing of the past with the County side saying they urgently need £15,000 of new sponsorship to save it from being scrapped permanently.
Sussex are due to play Warwickshire in the County Championship at Horsham starting on July 21 and then Nottinghamshire in a one-dayer on the Sunday, July 27.
But those games, and all future County games at Horsham’s picturesque ground could be moved to Hove with the club saying the festival is not currently financially viable without investment.
Speaking exclusively to the West Sussex County Times, Sussex CCC chief executive Zac Toumazi said he was desperate to save the festival, but that a poor financial year in 2013 meant they could no longer subsidise the event.
Sussex this week posted its financial results for 2013, announcing an overall loss of £65,000, and Mr Toumazi said: “Our financial results for last year were fairly poor. It meant we’ve had a budget target review for 2014 and one of the things that was very, very clear was that the Horsham Festival requires a degree of subsidy from our club.
“This has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that it is always an excellent week, the people at Horsham are great to work with and the fans enjoy going there and getting up close to the players, it purely comes down to economics.
“I myself am a big fan of putting on first-class cricket at other venues in the county and this certainly isn’t about jettisoning Horsham to bring more games back to Hove. We’ve had strong links with Horsham for many years, a number of our best players have come through their Colts and we want that bond to continue.”
Mr Toumazi said the club would need to raise £15,000 in sponsorship for the event to break even, and that 288 businesses had been contacted in the surrounding Horsham area offering the opportunity to become a partner.
But revealing the grave situation of things as they currently stand, he said just £100 had so far been pledged, and that a final decision would have to be made in just ten days to two weeks.
Mr Toumazi has issued a rallying call to businesses in the Horsham area to consider supporting the event, which brings in thousands of fans and is one of the best loved sporting weeks in the town’s calendar.
Last year Sussex blitzed Somerset in less than two days and then a record crowd of more than 4,000 turned out to watch the county club beat Kent in the one-dayer on Sunday.
“Having trouble getting sponsorship for the Horsham Festival is not a new problem, but I’m still very hopeful something will come up and we’ll be able to save it,” Mr Toumazi said.
“Times are still tough for all businesses but this is a great opportunity for a headline sponsor to come in and get behind what is a fantastic event.
“The club and I make a personal pledge that if we get the money we need to make it viable the Horsham Festival will go ahead.”
Arundel also stage their own festival and Mr Toumazi said that wasn’t under the same threat.