The Hundred‘s Successful Revenue Model and Importance to English Cricket
Oli Slipper, the chairman of Surrey County Cricket Club, recently revealed the club’s plans to bring Oval Invincibles under their prestigious banner. Slipper believes that embracing the Hundred, a highly popular cricket tournament, can help solidify the County Championship and English cricket as a whole.
Initially, Surrey was skeptical about the introduction of the Hundred in 2018. The club was concerned about the potential impact on red-ball cricket during the peak of the English summer and the possible undercutting of the existing T20 Blast, which had consistently drawn large crowds at the Kia Oval, the country’s largest venue.
However, Slipper now acknowledges the revenue-generating potential of the Hundred, prompting a change of heart within the club’s hierarchy. In an end-of-year message to the club membership, he stated that Surrey intends to utilize their share of any equity gained from the ECB’s upcoming review of the tournament’s ownership model to incorporate Oval Invincibles and strengthen their claim as “the greatest club in the world.”
While recognizing the concerns of long-standing club members regarding the impact on red-ball cricket, Slipper emphasized that he would not jeopardize the future of the club or County Cricket. He highlighted the success of the Hundred, both in terms of ticket sales and television viewership, underlining its significance as a revenue stream for cricket. Approximately 25% of the ECB’s revenue is generated through the tournament, thereby supporting the broader game and maintaining a sustainable ecosystem for all 18 counties.
Although the ECB is currently reviewing the future of the Hundred, including options such as expanding to ten teams or incorporating all 18 counties in a two-division format, Slipper noted that the broadcast deal with Sky Sports is secured until 2028, making the scrapping of the tournament unfeasible.
Instead, he sees the evolving nature of the Hundred as an opportunity for Surrey to exert influence on the direction of English and Welsh cricket. Slipper expressed Surrey’s intention to own and operate their own team within the tournament, taking a long-term approach rather than selling equity. It is crucial to him that the history, heritage, and legacy of the club are represented throughout the English summer.
Asserting Surrey’s stature within English cricket, Slipper declared that the club should not merely function as a rental venue but rather, expect any team playing domestic cricket at the Kia Oval to proudly wear the Three Feathers crest of Surrey. He envisions a future where players recognize the significance of standing on the shoulders of legends such as Edrich, Hobbs, Stewart, and Hollioake.
Surrey’s ambition extends to the women’s game as well, with plans to assume full ownership of the regional side, South East Stars. Additionally, the club is exploring options to build a secondary venue outside of Kennington to address the growing issue of pitch capacity at the Kia Oval.
Having recently secured their record-extending 22nd County Championship title, Surrey aims to protect the sanctity of first-class cricket. Slipper believes that their influence within the ECB will enable them to champion the interests of Surrey County Cricket Club and contribute to the growth and preservation of the red-ball game throughout the country.
In the years to come, strong voices from within the game will be essential, and Slipper is committed to making Surrey’s voice a leading one. With their seat at the table, Surrey intends to wield the necessary power and influence to shape the future of English cricket at all levels.