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What’s going on at Mistley CC? Q&A with the Treasurer

With rising costs dominating not just Mistley Cricket Club, but the national conversation over recent weeks, we thought it would be a good idea to run a few questions past Club Treasurer Myles Churchill, to share with our members the thinking behind recent decisions and the next steps for the club.

The headlines:

  • 10% REDUCTION in initial 2022 bar prices

  • Non-Member drinks to be no more than 10% higher than Members

  • Cash ACCEPTED at the bar

  • Cost of playing cricket DOWN £60 for the average member

  • Significant investments made in club infrastructure

 

Why have Bar Prices gone up at all?

The obvious place to start is the bar. I’m not deaf to the many conversations being had around the bar so this season, from the price increases to whether the bar should take cash.

The first thing to say is, after listening to the feedback of our members, we are reducing the cost of drinks by around 10% for members, with non-members paying no more than 10% on top of that.

The new prices do still work out as around a 10% increase on 2021, but this is very much in line with the industry. This is due to a combination of trying to keep the prices as cheap as possible in previous seasons, and the rising costs of running a bar – we are facing an increase in everything from stock and supply costs to electricity prices for cold storage. We are not immune to the rising costs affecting everyone in every walk of life. We appreciate that our members aren’t either! Ultimately, we are trying to find the right balance between making the bar sustainable in the long term, keeping costs as affordable as possible for our members, and recognising that the bar is a huge income generator for the club – without it we simply could not survive. We will be the first to admit that we didn’t quite get that balance right at the start of this season and have now made steps to rectify that.

The decision to Cashless bar has also been reversed. Cashless is still preferred, and we feel offering cashless payment is important to future-proof the club, but we will happily accept cash at the bar.

 

Why has my Playing Membership gone up?

In 2019, when we last updated the membership fees to £80 (+£10 per game), a player playing 12+ games (of which there were 30 in 2021, the majority of the playing membership) would end up paying at least £200 for their season’s cricket – this season they will be paying £140. So, in terms of the playing membership, I believe we are offering excellent value for money for the vast majority of players while offering an incentive to our members to play more cricket!

We appreciate that there will be those for who paying a lump sum upfront could be difficult, and I would encourage them to speak to him about how we can help – as we would never want the cost of playing cricket to be prohibitive to our members.

 

Where does my membership money go?

I think we have all played at grounds over the years which are not as nice as Mistley. I know I could name several grounds I have played at with tiny changing rooms, dirty showers, cold showers or even no working showers at all! Grounds with one sightscreen, no spectators, no atmosphere – places that just aren’t that pleasant to be or play cricket at.

If you look around the Two Counties, Mistley Cricket Club’s facilities are excellent – we are easily in the top bracket of clubs across Essex and Suffolk in terms of what we offer to members. Playing members can use the nets at any time, come and train and have a hot shower and a drink afterwards. Mistley Cricket Club has always been widely considered to be one of the nicest places to play in the county, and we want that to be the case for many years to come.

Equally, this is a club for and by the members. If you feel that there are areas which could be improved then please come and talk to me, your captain, or anyone on the committee and we can see what we can do about it.

 

Why has Social Membership increased?

The simple answer is because we believe it was too cheap previously! We want social membership to be more than just a way to get a cheap bar. We think Mistley CC is a nice place to be – there aren’t many better places to enjoy a sunny Saturday afternoon! We want to encourage social members as a way of supporting the club and the players, at the same time as socialising in a nice environment, a vibrant clubhouse and enjoyinh a cheaper bar tariff.

We have never been militant in enforcing a ‘members-only’ club, believing it to be detrimental to the friendly environment that, hopefully, embodies Mistley Cricket Club. We want to encourage new members by being open, friendly and approachable. This is why we offer membership prices, to say thank you to members for supporting us and to give them something back.

 

What are we trying to create?

I believe that paying a membership fee is your opportunity as a stakeholder to do your bit to protect the future success, and existence, of the club for future generations. I would bet that the majority of players wouldn’t believe the sums of money it takes to run a cricket of this scale – maybe we have got this wrong over the years and should have shared more about the figures the club is paying out every month, quarter and year – but we haven’t wanted to burden the membership with that responsibility – because we are able to pay it due to membership fees and successful bar takings.

 

What is the club’s overall financial position?

As any members who attended the AGM are well aware, the club has money in the bank. This is obviously a very good position to be in. However, it’s important to remember that we run a club that at any time could have a very large cash call – having a healthy bank balance is essential to allow us to safeguard the future of the club and make positive plans for the coming years.

We want to use our financial security to invest in a better product rather than slash prices. The club is already likely to run at a loss for the 2022 season due to several significant investments in improving our facilities and infrastructure.

In my experience, reducing prices because of cash in the bank never works in the commercial world. It is a slippery slope which I believe ultimately ends up with the club not having the money for something important on one rainy day in the future.

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