More important is its legacy of not living off past glories, he said. “It combines a rich history with relevance in the modern world.”
Indeed, Surrey County Cricket Club has embraced T20 – and the new audience it brings – accordingly, with 70 per cent of those coming to the T20 matches never having seen cricket before.
“We currently sell out most of our NatWest T20 Blast matches and Surrey is a strong T20 brand,” Gould explained. “We hope that if the Kia Oval is chosen as one of the venues for the new competition, which will be marketed by the ECB (cricket’s governing body), the matches continue to sell out.
“But that doesn’t mean T20 is the only future for the sport. Test cricket is still thriving and London is the Test capital of the world. There is room for both forms of the game and both can continue to thrive. One should not grow at the expense of the other.”
It’s this mindset of embracing both tradition and modern times that has led to the impressive growth of Surrey County Cricket Club.
International cricket accounts for 50-60 per cent of the club’s revenue. Domestic and non-match day activities account for the remaining 40 per cent – “this is the stream that has grown fastest over the last five years”.
The success of the domestic game has been crucial, Gould opined, and that’s thanks to the shorter T20 version of the game. He added: “If you compare 2016 with 2010, we played Pakistan in both those years, but in 2010 we lost £500,000 while in 2016 we made a record profit. The difference is T20 and the fact we have made the Oval one of the leading event venues in London.”
Prior announcements of a £50m redevelopment plan intending to make the Oval the biggest cricket venue in Britain – and the largest globally outside of India and Australia – come to mind. And that too, Gould suggests, could be attributed to T20 – the laws of supply and demand dictated expansion.
“We don’t have enough seats,” he exclaimed. “We need to put more bums on seats. That’s part of our future growth plan. It also includes raising the bar, giving supporters the best possible experience, and a 40,000-seat stadium will allow us to grow as a business.”
But in keeping with the times, the club hopes to place more emphasis on the non-cricket side of things. We’re talking conferences and events, as well as a dedicated small business hub for those involved in the sports industry.
“There is so much exciting development taking place in south London, such as the revitalisation of Battersea,” Gould explained, “and Surrey County Cricket Club wants to be part of that renewal and expansion.”
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