Membership model catapult Lord’s revamp



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Lords Cricket Ground renovation Sept. 2020 update Image: MCC

The second phase of transfiguration of the legendary Lord’s Cricket Ground in London will be able to proceed and will be completed in 2021. The entire modification work has been made possible after a new membership model provided “sufficient financial security” for the project. An announcement to this regard was made by the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC).

Lord’s Cricket Ground, commonly known as Lord’s, is a cricket venue in St John’s Wood, London. It is owned by the Marylebone Cricket Club. The club was formerly the governing body of cricket and still holds considerable clout globally.

In June, the MCC, owner of the iconic London ground, revealed a lifetime membership plan as it provided an update on the costs of the stadium’s repurposing work and the impact COVID-19 has had on the project as UK continues to reel under coronavirus along with the rest of the world.

MCC Chief Executive and Secretary, Guy Lavender, has now written to members detailing that the Club has been “wholly successful” in its efforts. The new membership model has two parts, the first being an offer to existing full members to move from paying an annual subscription each year, to making one payment for life.

The second component part, which is said to have played a key role in meeting the club’s financial targets was the ability, when necessary, to offer a number of new memberships. The figure presented in June was set at a maximum of 350.

The lifetime MCC membership was priced at £80,000 (€86,270/$102,370) for new members. Selling 350 life memberships would in theory create £28m in total revenue, which MCC can use as financial injection in projects instead of debt borrowing. At the time, Lord’s had 12,000 people on its member waiting list and the lifetime membership offer effectively allowed fans to “jump the queue” if they were happy to pay the full rate.

Reporting on the outcome of the scheme, Lavender remarked, “As previously advised, the MCC Committee decided to accept all applications from existing full members and to elect up to 350 new full members. By the closing date of July 22nd, we had received 2,208 applications from existing full members and 363 applications for the new vacancies for full membership from associate members and candidates nominated before May 1st, 2020.

“Following the initial tranche of payments on September 1st, life membership receipts totaling £22.9m have been banked and we are expecting a further £7.8m by the second and final payment date of October 1st. This accounts for the successful applications of 2,035 existing full members and 339 new full members (comprising 203 associate members and 136 candidates nominated before May 1st, 2020),” Lavender added.

“In July, the Club Chairman (Gerald Corbett) reported the projected outcome net of VAT; for comparison purposes the updated figures are £14.6m from existing full members and £11m from new full members. We expected some withdrawals but the drop-off rate was low, at less than
8 percent.”

Lavender said that although the number of new full members elected as part of the life membership scheme is presently 11 short of the 350 vacancies greenlighted by members, the Committee has decided not to pursue the expressions of interest from those wishing to participate in the scheme under the provisions for members’ family and friends.

The Westminster City Council granted full planning go-ahead for the second phase of the Lord’s redevelopment back in January 2019. The second part of the long-term rehabilitation plan first unveiled in 2013 involves the construction of two new three-tier stands to replace the existing Compton and Edrich Stands.

MCC and its building contractor ISG Construction broke ground on the two year-phased project in September 2019. In November and December, the work of pulling down the old stands was through and work on the new structures began in January and February, before concrete started to be laid in March and April.

Lavender continued, “The revenue generated by the life membership scheme has safeguarded MCC’s position as we approach the completion of the redevelopment of the Compton and Edrich stands. The cautious and prudent approach we have taken towards every area of expenditure in 2020 will, of course, continue as we go into next year and until we have a clearer indication of our likely position on the other side of the pandemic.”

MCC remains debt-free and we have built important cash reserves to create much-needed security. With such an unsettled year ahead, your support ensures we are able to prioritize our Club’s long-term future,” Lavender concluded.

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