Chairman Warren insists Northants are 'in good shape' to deal with suspension of the cricket season

Chairman Gavin Warren has reassured all Northants supporters that their club 'is in good shape' to deal with the current suspension of the cricket season, and that everybody at the County Ground 'is in it together'.

Northants chairman Gavin Warren
Northants chairman Gavin Warren

Due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis, all cricket has been put on hold until the end of May at the earliest, with the first seven rounds of the Specsavers County Championship, which was due to start on April 12, all postponed.

As it stands, no definite decision has been made on whether or not the Vitality T20 Blast, which is due to start on May 29, will get underway, but with everything that is happening, that does seem unlikely.

Talks between the ECB and the counties are ongoing as to what parts of the season, if any, can be rescued, but Warren insists that whatever happens, Northants will still be here and will be fighting fit come this time next year.

The gates are locked at the County Ground

All 18 first-class counties were boosted this week with the news from the England & Wales Cricket Board that they are effectively fast-forwarding £40m worth of financial support to aid cash flow between now and June.

The money was already due to the counties over the course of the next three months, but they will now get it in a lump sum, as well as the money due to them for 'facilities maintenance' over the season

"We are in pretty good shape at the minute," said Warren.

"Our story is long, but financially we have sorted ourselves out and fortunately we are in a good place.

The fixture board at the County Ground is empty

"We are working very hard with the ECB, and also with our staff and with our players, and we will be making an announcement pretty soon about that.

"We are very much all in this together as a club, and I think if everybody sticks together as a club, and also as a nation and as a sport, then we will all get through it.

"Fair play to the ECB, and they should be applauded for responding so quickly and recognising the challenges that all cricket clubs have, not just the first-class ones but the recreational clubs as well."

On top of the £40m being made available to the counties, the ECB has also pledged £20m in the form of interest-free loans to help recreational clubs across the UK, and that has pleased Warren.

"My local club Horton House will now get access to funds, as will Hardingstone or Stoke Bruerne, or any club, and that is very important," said the Northants chairman.

"I always say the chairmen of the local clubs 'your problems are the same as my problems, just that mine are on a bigger scale'.

"I need members, I need sponsors, and I need players, just like they do so it is no different.

"That is why I am pleased that when all of the chairmen got together we did say that we needed to do something for recreational cricket as well, so the ECB package wasn't just one for first-class, it was one for everybody in cricket."

Sussex chief executive Rob Andrew hit the headlines this week when he said counties had to start preparing for the 'worst-case scenario' of no cricket being played at all in the 2020 season.

Warren is still very much hoping that will not be the case, and that some cricket will be played at some point, but he says Northants are prepared if it transpires that not a single ball is bowled this summer.

"Cricket will get through this, we have got some good people there (at the ECB) and we have a cracking chief executive in Tom Harrison," said Warren. "We are still planning to get out on the park and get playing, and we haven't written the season off.

"But if you ask me when that will be, I would have to say I haven't got a clue. Everybody has as much idea as I have because it is a much bigger problem than that (playing again).

"For me, the number one thing is people and players being safe.

"Do I want to play cricket? Yes, 100 per cent. Do the players want to play, do the fans want to see it? Of course they do.

"It is like the rugby boys and the football boys, they want to get out there again, but until it is safe we can't do anything."

And that worst-case scenario of not playing?

"We would be fine if that were to be the case, but it is not about this year, because it has a knock on effect for next year, and a knock on effect for year three as well," said Warren.

"We are the start of a five-year cycle with the Sky TV deal, so it is not all about here and now, it is about years two and three, and what that knock on effect is.

"Sponsors are paying and members are paying, and they are getting no return at the minute.

"So I think we are all sort of planning for the worst-case scenario for this year, but it is about the long term as well, not just the here and now.

"We have come through a tough journey, and we want to make sure we get through this next tough journey and be about for the next 100 years."