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Home / Cricket News / More to just cricket in Glamorgan’s business strategy

More to just cricket in Glamorgan’s business strategy

The captains and kings of one-day cricket have departed.

The shouting has died away and the army of Indian supporters dispersed, leaving a small band of loyal South Africans at the gates of the Swalec Stadium.

For Glamorgan County Cricket Club’s chief executive Alan Hamer, the day after the first game in the ICC Champions Trophy is a period for reflection – the morning after the day and night before.

Security at the ground is comparable to that of the London Olympics and a letter of introduction from the Indian High Commissioner would be of little value.

Visiting the chief executive means a visitor has to breach this security wall to reach the relative calm of his office, overlooking a ground bathed in sunshine and littered with ground staff.

“Being given the opening game of any major competition means the eyes of the world are on you,” Mr Hamer said.

“Everyone remembers the opening game and to be given it was a great honour for Glamorgan, something we thought we deserved after the success of staging the Ashes Test in 2009.”

The responsibility of hosting this opening game has weighed heavily on the 43-year-old chartered accountant, who won his business spurs when he worked as finance director for the Welsh Rugby Union.

Unlike the Ashes Test, which was purely an Australia v England affair, this game was a global event, showcasing Cardiff to an estimated audience of 500 million viewers.

“The Indian High Commissioner said ‘not everyone in India will see the game but would know it’s going on in Cardiff, even though they might not know where Cardiff is,” Mr Hamer said.

“In terms of profile, this was the biggest game the club’s ever staged… far bigger than the Ashes and a major event for us to bring to Wales.”

As one would expect, he is quick to stress the financial implications of this event.

They are, he explained, three-fold. For the club itself by staging this competition the hope is to generate a seven-figure profit. Not, he said, an insignificant amount of money for Glamorgan.

The local economy will also benefit and he draws a parallel with the five-day Ashes test which made a £5m direct impact on the local economy.

The 2013 ICC Champions Trophy competition played over a two-week period will look to generate an equivalent amount with the added bonus of creating a worldwide impact.

Quantifying this, Mr Hamer said: “Now cricket has presented an opportunity for Wales to present itself to the sub-continent and India is a country the Welsh Government is keen to grow business links with.

“In sporting terms only, cricket provides this opportunity.”

The impact, Mr Hamer believes, is considerable but difficult to measure, but it means that more people will have a better understanding of Wales.

“The Welsh Government sees cricket as important in its events strategy,” he said.

“So it is keen to bring top-class teams here. India are top-class and, hopefully, Welsh business will be able to benefit, in due course, through these links.”

This, he adds, is not a one-off event because India will return next year to play England in a one-day international in Cardiff and Glamorgan management has submitted a bid to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for this.

“If India win their group they’ll be back for the semi-final on June 20,” he said.

He added: “There’s an opportunity now to create relationships with Indian businesses and for these to be followed through to the benefit of Welsh business in general and Glamorgan in particular.”

Outside, the ground staff are still busily rolling the outfield and tending the wicket, which prompts Mr Hamer to observe that “a chief executive officer is only as good as the team around him”.

His management team comprises catering and stadium managers, a finance and commercial director and a head groundsman who he praises for a wicket which delivered more than 600 runs.

Altogether there are 40 permanent staff – plus, of course, that vital ingredient, the cricket team itself.

“On events days we engage a host of temporary staff on a casual basis and our stewards are people who have worked at other sporting venues and have a wealth of experience when it comes to dealing with the public,” he explained.

The management team is an essential component in generating the club’s turnover which, Mr Hamer points out, varies from year to year and the number of international matches staged.

He said: “We have a core business which is worth about £3m, but this depends on the international matches we have.

“A five-day test match, for example, can generate lots of money, a one-day game less and sometimes we get no games at all, so turnover and profitability fluctuates. Any event that brings in £1m is significant for us.”

This means there is a constant search for ways in which to generate income?

This must be a question the chief executive is constantly asked, for his answer is immediate.

“We are a cricket club and an entertainment venue,” he replied. “We could not survive on cricket alone since we only play here on 35 days a year, weather permitting.

“County cricket doesn’t pay the bills so we have to top-up our income.

“Bringing major events here is key, so ideally we would like to replicate the India v South Africa game several times a year.”

He added: “We have a non-cricket business which has been in place for many years and grown year on year, providing all-year-round income, especially in the winter months.”

The stadium is, he believes, a great facility with the potential for a seven-figure turnover.

And it’s this potential that drives the innovative approach management has seen as the way forward.

Mr Hamer said: “We are in the process of speaking to Cardiff Council about staging concerts here in keeping with the location. It’s all about how often we can use the stadium and the costs and staff involved.”

With his in mind, he said, “we have significant debt of £15m which has to be repaid along with the interest. This can’t be done unless we maximise the use of this venue.”

The business strategy is, he explains, to increase Glamorgan’s match day revenues which must be driven by performance.

“There are 365 days in a year and only 35 are taken by Glamorgan, but we are busy every week of the year.”

Despite unrelenting commercial activity, external funding is vital and this comes from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) – in the form of a guaranteed fixed amount enhanced by performance payments.

Mr Hamer calls this “a very good system” which has to meet criteria laid down like the fielding of England-qualified players and the age of those players.

“It’s about encouraging young players who will perhaps become test match players and, for this, we get about £2m from the ECB,” he said.

“There are counties that spend more, but currently we don’t have the means to do this.

“However, the situation could change if we have a successful team and attendances rise, then we can invest more in building a team. We don’t have the means to get the cheque book out and spend a few hundred thousand on players with no guarantee of success.

“Last year Derbyshire, a club with a small budget, were Division Two champions.”

This leads on to matters of expectation and Glamorgan membership and admits there are those who question why there are no major signings to underwrite success.

He said: “We want Glamorgan to be successful, which makes this a better environment in which to work. From a supporters’ perspective, it has been a long time since 2004 when Glamorgan last won anything and this leads to supporter frustration.

“In the one-day game those supporters are mostly non-members who come for the day, so the difference between winning or losing has a significant impact on the business.”

Cricket as a sport has undergone many changes in a comparatively short time. Limited-over cricket has transformed a game rooted in the County Championship ethos.

Next year, Twenty20 cricket will be played over a longer period of time and played on Friday evening while the 50-over form of the game will played at the start of the season.

“The county matches, which our members enjoy and are watched by many retired people, will now start on a Sunday and end on a Wednesday,” Mr Hamer explained.

“With so much international cricket being played, you can’t please everyone. Reducing international matches would mean a revenue loss for us and we have to balance this with encouraging families to come – and they can only do this in the evening or at the weekend.”

With the season approaching its halfway point, is the chief executive optimistic about its outcome?

He said: “We have a number of objectives to meet. These include improved performances which display that we are moving in the right direction. So if this season’s performance is better than the last, then progress is being made.”

All, he believes, will be revealed in the next month, which is a key month in terms of games to be played, attendances and the hospitality revenue to be generated.

“We will then know how the season is going and how it’s impacting on our finances,” he said.

Alan  Hamer  was born in Glanaman and grew up in Pontardawe and regards himself as a son of the Swansea Valley.

A Welsh speaker, he was educated at Ystalyfera Comprehensive School and Cardiff University where he read accountancy at the business School.

After graduating, he joined Ernst Young’s recovery and insolvency department before joining HTV, then moving on to First Choice Holidays.

He said: “I joined the WRU in 2004 as financial director.

“This was not a time of great success for the Welsh team even though a Grand Slam had been won in 2005.”

On leaving the WRU he moved to Glamorgan Cricket Club, which had won a bid to stage an Ashes Test, as finance and commercial director becoming chief executive in 2009.

Of his time at the Swalec Stadium he said: “I am by nature a competitive person and we have achieved a great deal off the field. The area that remains outstanding is the team and I want Glamorgan to be successful on the field.

“However, we are realistic about this and recognise it cannot happen overnight, which is why we have in place a five-year plan.”

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