YORKSHIRE chairman Steve Denison has branded the prize money in county cricket as “a joke”.
Denison believes the numbers are “derisory” and wants the England and Wales Cricket Board at Lord’s to act.
Yorkshire received £36,634 in total for finishing third in last season’s County Championship and for reaching the semi-finals of both one-day tournaments.
To put that into perspective, Leicester City earned £24,848,100 in prize money for winning football’s Premier League – roughly the same amount that Yorkshire are in debt.
“As far as prize money in domestic cricket is concerned, frankly this is a joke in just about all respects,” said Denison. “It’s terrible, and it barely pays a wage or two in some cases.
“The sponsors provide the prize money, so I appreciate that it’s difficult.
“There is a question, however, as to whether the ECB should be putting in prize money from their own funds, and I think that should be looked at.”
Yorkshire received £15,022 for finishing third in last year’s Championship, £16,212 for reaching the NatWest T20 Blast semi-finals and £5,400 for reaching the Royal London Cup semi-finals.
Even if they had done the treble (as had seemed possible going into the last few weeks of the season), they would have received only £293,160 in total prize funds.
To put that into perspective, a football club completing the treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup would receive £26,748,100.
The bottom line is that we’ve got players at Yorkshire who are striving incredibly hard on the pitch for the club, and the prize money that the club receives doesn’t even cover the cost of participating, which can’t be right.Steve Denison
However, that figure would be significantly swelled by television income and gate receipts to the extent that one would probably need an abacus the size of Headingley cricket ground to calculate the overall amount.
“If you did a straw poll and asked people how much they thought Yorkshire would have got for finishing third in the Championship last season, and for reaching both one-day semi-finals, most would say £100,000-plus, even while recognising that there’s no money in cricket,” said Denison.
“But the reality is even more pronounced.
“In fact, I recently ran a little online sweep and gave four options – and less than half guessed correctly that circa £37,000 was the right number. Most thought that last year we would have achieved at least £137,000.”
When Yorkshire won the Championship in 2015, they received £158,100 in prize money – known as the County Performance Payment (CPP).
According to Denison, it barely reflects the prestige of the achievement and the efforts involved.
“Even for winning the County Championship, £158,000 doesn’t get you much,” he said.
“It’s probably worth Wayne Rooney’s left toenail, or something like that.
“The bottom line is that we’ve got players at Yorkshire who are striving incredibly hard on the pitch for the club, and the prize money that the club receives doesn’t even cover the cost of participating, which can’t be right.
“So we’re therefore reliant on the luck of the draw in terms of making money; if we get a home quarter-final against Lancashire in the One-Day Cup, for example, then bingo, but how often does that happen?”
The CPP does not include players’ prize money, which is typically at least twice as high and sometimes more.
Whereas Yorkshire’s combined CPP last year was £36,634, their aggregate Players’ Prize Money (PPM) across the three tournaments was £119,750.
Players’ prize monies are paid to counties as part of a total prize fund that includes the CPP, with clubs then free to distribute players’ cash as they see fit.
The £119,750 figure is the amount that Yorkshire would have been able to pass on to players, coaches and staff without incurring additional costs.
Had Yorkshire won the treble last year, their aggregate PPM would have been £649,000 – £374,000 for winning the Championship, £175,000 for winning the NatWest T20 Blast, and £100,000 for winning the Royal London Cup.
Denison, of course, is speaking as the chairman of a successful First Division club, but the prize money is naturally even less in Division Two of the Championship.
Last year’s Second Division champions, Essex, received a CPP of £33,000, while second-placed Kent received just £8,000.
“The money that clubs receive contributes, if you like, towards the development of their teams, so it is important,” continued Denison.
“At Yorkshire, we actually achieved the minimum target that we set ourselves last year in all competitions, and yet received that princely sum of around £37,000.
“You can tell, therefore, the extent of the challenge. Prize money is not going to fund our club, or, indeed, any club.”