The costs of the international game may be spiralling upwards, yet as any fule kno, the domestic game continues to provide the best value for money for the honest cricket lover. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the various membership packages offered by the Eighteen. For a couple of hundred quid, the price of a couple of days’ Test cricket, you can soak up unlimited first-class cricket at your local (or not so local) county ground.
That being said, not all membership packages are created equal. Some provide better value than others. Many followers will not, of course, have the luxury of being able to choose their club: loyalties run deep. For the unaffiliated aficionado, however, where is his or her money best spent?
The data has been collected, crunched, and compiled into the following table, ordered by position in the County Championship (after relegation/promotion at the end of the 2014 season).
Points of note:
- The price listed is the regular price available to a new member, with no early-bird/junior/senior/student discounts factored in. However, if a direct-debit discount is available, that has been reflected in the price.
- The package for comparison is the cheapest available that covers entry to all home matches in all competitions (excluding knockout stages). Essex are the only county that do not offer a package that includes T20 matches; therefore, the price has been calculated by adding the cost of entry to each individual home T20 to the membership package that covers the other games.
- Many counties offer sizeable early-bird discounts and/or “country” discounts to members that live a specified distance away from the county’s home ground.
|County||2014 LVCC position||Cost||Difference to average|
We see that prices differ in a range of £95, with the average package costing £213. Kent, at £255, have the unenviable position as most expensive county, closely followed by GOSBTS at £250. The former has, however, one of the more generous country-member discounts, with full access available for just £130, providing you’re not within 75 miles of Canterbury. This makes it available to most of the country, London excepted.
Talking of London, there is a surprisingly large discrepancy in the amounts Middlesex and Surrey charge. Middlesex charge a pricy £240 (£50 less for renewing members), and sadly not all matches will be at Lord’s. Surrey, by contrast, tuck in below the two-hundred-pound threshold at £194. Despite being a Middlesex man, I therefore, with gritted teeth, have to recommend joining Surrey as best value in the South East.
It certainly seems better than the Essex offering. At Chelmsford it isn’t possible to buy a package encompassing all games: one has to buy the standard package at £152 and then £12 a pop for each T20 game. On the plus side, if you know you won’t make more than 3 or 4 of the T20s, this allows you to regulate your spending, bringing the cost in line with other counties. On the down side, even as a member you have to book in advance and can’t just roll up on the day, as you could at Lord’s, for example.
Note in passing, however, that a non-member T20 ticket with reserved seating is an astonishing £29. This seems ludicrously high, especially when you consider that over in Cardiff, for £30, just £1 extra, you could see England play Australia – and as a double-header too, with both the men’s and women’s teams’ T20Is included in the price.
Talking of Cardiff, £179 seems reasonable, compared to regional rivals Gloucestershire (£225) and Somerset (£212). Glamorgan: best in the West, especially when you consider their £40 Early Bird discount.
If all you want to watch at Chelmsford is T20, just buy individual tickets at £22: pricey, but 7 x £22 = £154.
The White and Red head-to-head is close, with Yorkshire edging the Roses battle, although at just £3 more, it would only be the most fickle of Lancashire supporters who would be tempted to defect. It’s Durham, though, that yield best value in the North: their charge of £195 is bettered by only one county in Division One.
Yet it is that county that stands out overall. Nottinghamshire not only offer the lowest price of any county, first or second division, but they also remain one of the most competitive counties, with solid credentials in the Championship and knockout-stage progress in the 2014 limited-overs competitions. Included in the price is access to all Northamptonshire and Leicestershire home Championship matches. Throw into the mix the prospect of seeing several young England stars in action, and priority access to booking international tickets, and it’s easy to see why Nottinghamshire receive the prestigious Raging Turner County Membership of The Year 2015.