English cricket rolls out $75 million rescue package amid pandemic

County teams to get £40 million as ECB tries to keep 'cricket network in business'

England's cricketers leave the ground after the second day of a four-day practice match between Sri Lanka Board President's XI and England at the P. Sara Oval Cricket Stadium in Colombo on March 13, 2020. England's cricket team abruptly pulled out of a tour of Sri Lanka on March 13 over the mounting coronavirus pandemic. A practice match in Colombo was halted as the team announced they would be flying back to London, and the first of two Test matches due to start on March 19 has been postponed. / AFP / LAKRUWAN WANNIARACHCHI

A $75 million (Dh275m) rescue package was rolled out by English cricket on Tuesday to help teams at all levels withstand the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

The England and Wales Cricket Board said £40m (Dh182m) was being made available at first-class and county level from Wednesday. More than £20m will go to local clubs, via loans and grants.

The start of the English cricket season has been delayed until May 28 at the earliest because of the outbreak, with the ECB modelling a range of options for cricket to begin in June, July or August. One model takes into account the possibility of the entire 2020 campaign being canceled.

ECB chief executive Tom Harrison said his organisation was doing everything it can “to try and make sure that we keep the cricket network in business” during what he said was the sport’s biggest crisis, at least in in the modern era.

“The aim is to give certainty in these extremely difficult times and to keep the lights on,” Harrison said. “This is just the start of addressing this massive challenge and we have to work together because every area of the game will be impacted in the event that most or all of the cricket season is lost.”

Monthly payments which would usually be passed down by the ECB in May, June and July will be issued immediately, as will two years’ worth of facilities maintenance money usually ring-fenced for work on the ground and venues but which is now unrestricted.