EXCLUSIVE: England cricketers FUME with ECB fat cats to pocket £2.1m bonus for delivering the Hundred after squad took pay cut during Covid crisis last summer and 62 jobs were cut last year
- The ECB’s top officials will share a £2.1million bonus pot because of the Hundred
- The officials see the bonus figure as a reward for delivering the competition
- England’s cricketers have been left ‘very unimpressed’ by the ECB’s decision
- The players took a 15 per cent pay cut due to Covid and the ECB cut 62 jobs
England cricketers are angry that the ECB’s top officials are set to share a bonus pot of £2.1million, with one player telling Sportsmail that he and his team-mates are ‘very unimpressed’ by the decision.
The sum, which will be split between chief executive Tom Harrison and a handful of other executives, is part of the board’s ‘long-term incentive plan’ (LTIP), described as a ‘retention tool for key senior leaders’, but regarded by many as a reward for implementing the Hundred.
It is less than a year since England’s centrally-contracted players took a 15 per cent pay cut during the board’s financial restructuring caused by the pandemic. The ECB also reduced their own workforce by 20 per cent, equating to 62 jobs.
ECB officials are set to share a bonus pot of £2.1million for delivering the inaugural Hundred
England’s cricketers are understood to be ‘very unimpressed’ with the call to give out a bonus
Speaking at the time, Harrison said: ‘The entire cricket network has pulled together to get us through this challenge so far and overcoming it will mean continuing to make tough decisions.’
A former ECB contract worker, who provided maternity cover for a post that has since been made redundant, tweeted that the news had made him ‘feel pretty sick’. He added: ‘Absolutely shameful.’
On the eve of the crucial third Test against India at Headingley, disquiet among the England players is understood to centre on the discrepancy between their own financial sacrifices and the executives’ rewards at a time of widespread belt-tightening.
England’s centrally-contracted players took a 15 per cent pay cut during the Covid crisis
ECB chairman Ian Watmore has argued that the board’s leading executives were ‘among the first to commit to significant and voluntary pay and incentive cuts in 2020’ — though that came not long after Harrison earned a 17 per cent pay rise in the 2018-19 financial year, when he was paid a total of £719,175.
There is also scepticism about the reason behind the introduction of the LTIP in 2017.
One county executive who sat in on discussions with the ECB told Sportsmail: ‘There was always this pot when the LTIP was first introduced three years ago, and everybody knew it was solely to do with the Hundred.
‘It was to the extent where it was causing quite a lot of issues within the ECB about who was included in the LTIP and who wasn’t.
ECB chairman Ian Watmore has argued that ECB board members also took a pay cut as well
‘We wanted them to be more even-handed in the way they promoted all formats of the game, and their sole focus was on the Hundred, in terms of getting it the best slot in the summer, all the marketing budget — they parked everything into it.
‘The issue in the wider county game is that people were promised big bonuses to put the Hundred first at the expense of everything else. As a result of that you get one-eyed decision-making.’
Nottinghamshire, meanwhile, hope to attract a crowd of more than 14,000 to Trent Bridge for Wednesday’s T20 Blast quarter-final against Hampshire.
The ECB also reduced their own workforce by 20 per cent due to Covid, equating to 62 jobs
During the Hundred, the same venue attracted an average crowd of 12,585 for Trent Rockets’ four home matches, with the figure dropping to 12,019 once free tickets were factored in (based on the ECB’s claim that around 4.5 per cent of all Hundred tickets were given away).
For Wednesday’s Blast game, 125 tickets have been made free — 75 to Notts players and 50 to Hants.
In Tuesday night’s quarter-final at the Riverside, Sussex beat Yorkshire by five wickets with two balls to spare.
Yorkshire’s 177 for seven looked like it might be enough but a late burst from Rashid Khan (27no) saw Sussex home.
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