YORKSHIRE believe they are bucking the trend as membership figures continue to rise.
The club are reporting an 11 per cent year-on-year increase due to new take-ups and membership renewals.
Commercial director Andy Dawson said the club currently have around 5,000 members, compared to around 4,500 this time last year.
With Yorkshire still selling packages for next season, Dawson is optimistic that last year’s final figure of 7,329 members will climb to around the 8,000-mark.
“From 2012 we’ve been sort of bucking the trend a little bit,” he said.
“Unlike some clubs, we’ve been on the incline.
“Since 2012, we’ve shown significant growth and experienced a growth of 1,639 members, which in financial terms is £243,000.
“Now, in a year where the number of County Championship games is being reduced, we’re not only looking to sustain that but also to show an increase, which is really pleasing.
“We’ve got 487 new members so far, based on this time last year, and there’s plenty of time to go yet and still plenty of members who haven’t yet renewed.
“We finished at 7,329 members last season, which includes everyone: qualified members who can vote, as well as junior members who can’t vote but who we still consider members of the club.
“We will continue to sell another 2,500-plus memberships from now until April/May/June, so it’s certainly not finished.
“At the moment, the forecast would be that we’ll be over 8,000 members for 2017.”
Membership figures in county cricket are difficult to pin down, with many different packages across the various formats of cricket and peaks and troughs of interest throughout the year.
But from what Dawson detects, Yorkshire are having a better time of it than some.
“I think it’s bucking the trend nationally from what I’ve seen and understand,” he said.
“I don’t know the detail of everyone’s membership numbers, but, from what I’ve heard, memberships generally are going down.
“Ours, on the other hand, are going up. Our retention rates have also been at 89 per cent, which is as high as they’ve ever been.”
Dawson believes there are two key reasons why Yorkshire are prospering.
First, and most obviously, success on the field, with Yorkshire having undergone a renaissance in that regard since 2012.
After winning County Championship promotion that year and reaching the final of the Twenty20 Cup, Yorkshire finished second in the Championship the following season and then won back-to-back titles in 2014/2015.
Last year, they narrowly failed to win a hat-trick of Championships when they were edged out by eventual champions Middlesex.
The other reason, said Dawson, is the hard work that Yorkshire have undertaken behind the scenes to engage with their members and give them good value.
“I think it’s a mixture of things,” he reflected.
“Clearly, we’ve performed well on the field over the last five seasons, and our cricket has been on the up-and-up since 2012.
“Now we’ve got a new coach/captain partnership in Andrew Gale and Gary Ballance, and I think people will be interested to see how that unfolds as well.
“Off the field, our packaging and prices have been fair, transparent and consistent, and people understand them.
“I think we’ve made it easier for people to renew memberships in the way that we provide the ability to do it online and through various different methods.
“Our marketing efforts are a lot more strategic. We spend a lot of time in terms of members’ surveys, finding out what they like and what they don’t like, and how we can improve and position ourselves to give them what they want.
“Because of all this, memberships continue to grow at a healthy rate.”
Yorkshire’s annual meeting will take place at Headingley on Saturday, March 18.