Scarborough ‘devastated’ after losing Yorkshire CCC County Championship Roses clash with Lancashire CCC

YORKSHIRE are hoping it will be a case of third time lucky after revealing that they plan to take Roses cricket back to Scarborough next year.

Scarborough have lost this summer's Roses game. Picture: Richard Ponter
Scarborough have lost this summer's Roses game. Picture: Richard Ponter

The club has been forced to switch its showpiece County Championship match against Lancashire (July 11-14) to its Headingley headquarters after being told that the ongoing Covid restrictions would have meant as few as 1,200 spectators being able to attend each day of the game at North Marine Road.

It follows last year’s thwarted attempt to play what would have been the first Championship Roses match at Scarborough since 1991.

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However, Mark Arthur, the Yorkshire chief executive, said that he is not giving up on the dream of bringing the arch rivals back to the North Yorkshire coast.

Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur.

“For me, it was heartbreaking to have to make this decision with Scarborough Cricket Club,” said Arthur, after a risk assessment of the ground carried out on behalf of the England and Wales Cricket Board showed that it was unable to meet all of the safety criteria that would have allowed crowds of at least 25 per cent in a venue that holds around 9,000, criteria that includes the ability to demonstrate social distancing at entrances and exits, toilets, and minimising congestion.

“We will do our level best to get that Roses game for Scarborough next year, and we will apply for that with the ECB.

“We explored every avenue to get this game on after the government extended the restrictions earlier this month, and people are understandably going to be upset because they love going to Scarborough and had booked their accommodation and so on.

“We are extremely sorry but we wanted to ensure that as many members could attend the game as possible, and we have to do what the law says which is obviously a decision that’s been made by the government.”

Scarborough CC had initially been expecting crowds of around 6,000 each day and estimate that it would have cost £70,000-£100,000 to put on the match following the outcome of the risk assessment conducted by AFL Architects of Manchester on behalf of the ECB, due to the increased infrastructure costs, food and drink points and stewarding fees.

The club believed it could safely accommodate as many as 3,700 spectators each day only to be told that this figure would actually be 1,200-1,600 – well short even of the current capacity limit of 25 per cent.

Such has been the interest in the Roses game that Scarborough’s economy could be hit to the tune of £3m in such as lost accommodation, restaurant and travel costs.

It is thought that Yorkshire cricket at Scarborough benefits that economy by around £5m annually, and cricket officials are now hoping that the other Yorkshire games scheduled there for later in the summer, in one-day and Championship cricket, will not be affected pending the expected lifting of all restrictions on July 19.

Bill Mustoe, the Scarborough CC director and vice-president, told The Yorkshire Post: “It’s devastating to lose the Roses game. It’s a blow for the town, a blow for the club, and we’re all feeling a little bit sick right now.

“Lots of people will have booked their accommodation, restaurants and travel, and it’s very unlucky in terms of the game’s proximity to the new date given by the government for the lifting of restrictions.

“We’ve just got caught by that and there’s nothing we can do; Mark (Arthur) has said we will try and get you Yorkshire v Lancashire in 2022, and we’re very grateful for that support.”

Mustoe estimates it will still cost Scarborough £15,000-£30,000 with the game being moved, while a great deal of planning and preparation had already been done.

He explained how AFL Architects had conducted the risk assessment after the government announced on June 14 that it was delaying the lifting of restrictions due to concerns over the so-called Delta variant.

“AFL has been round to a lot of the first-class grounds on behalf of the ECB and done various Covid assessments,” said Mustoe.

“They came and measured gangways, looked at the seating, all that sort of stuff, and the basic configuration in the ground.

“Unfortunately, the exits and entrances are probably smaller than they would like to get people separated in and out, the gangways are few in the sense that you’ve got very long seat runs with all the wooden benches, and you can’t have people crossing on the same row and things like that.

“I understand the logic, I’m just desperately disappointed for everyone concerned.”

Up to 4,250 spectators can attend the rearranged game at Headingley each day, with Yorkshire allowing Scarborough CC members to attend for free pending the usual application process that is presently in force.

For further details, visit the respective club websites.