Thursday, December 24, 2009

Campaign by Kent members gathers momentum

The campaign by a group of members of Kent County Cricket Club to persuade the County to rethink their 2010 membership structure and subscriptions is gaining momentum. Helped by the running of stories in the national media, including in today’s Times, the campaign is well on its way to gaining the 100 signatures it needs to call for a Special General Meeting of the county to discuss the matter.

The campaign was launched shortly after Kent’s current membership received details of the County’s proposals for 2010. In 2009 you could be a member of Kent for £128 (£115 if you were over 65). For 2010 this was to be increased to £200 with no senior discount at all. An increase of 56% or of 74% for seniors. Various categories of membership were to be abolished including that of Country member, Senior (Over 65) and Student (18-23 for full time students). Within days of the protests starting Kent relented on the Country member category and re-introduced it at a 50% discount but at the time of writing the other categories remain abolished and the minimum membership cost for ordinary members is still £200.

Members have pointed out that neighbouring county Sussex has full membership available for as little as £100 and that most other counties have similarly affordable deals. In the case of Sussex the membership offer is “tiered” with the £100 deal including “only” One Day games and with a top membership category at £210 to include the County Championship games. There is no such choice available to Kent members who are offered a take it or leave it “All matches” membership at £200

The outcry has come particularly from members who, for various reasons, can only attend a few matches each season but value their membership and the right to wear the county tie and sit in the members areas at the grounds when they do attend matches. Many of these members are not interested in Twenty20 so the inclusion of these games in the new package is of little value to them. The opposition is understandably strong from older members who have seen the greatest increase and it is often the case the these members find it difficult to attend more than a few matches each years - and also that they are not amongst the most enthusiastic supporters of Twenty20. Many pensioner members struggle on fixed incomes and the extra £85 they are being asked to pay is unaffordable. This means that many long-standing members will simply drift away from the county and that their membership subscriptions will be lost entirely. The result is that the income generated from the sale of membership may even decrease despite the swinging subscription increase.

The campaign has opened a dialogue with the club on this matter and it is hoped that Kent will rethink their whole 2010 membership offer and avoid the cost of having to arrange a Special General Meeting. The introduction of a “tiered” membership structure similar in principle to that of Sussex seems the likely way forward.