Cardiff Test future under scrutiny
Cardiff's future as a Test venue is under scrutiny after the ECB announced it had lost the right to host one of next year's three Tests against West Indies.
The match has instead been put back out to tender, and will be open to bids from the other eight Test-playing venues, although Lord's is the likeliest host.
The decision came after Glamorgan succumbed to cashflow problems in the wake of this year's disastrous first Test against Sri Lanka, which was dogged by rain and spectator apathy. Only 922 spectators witnessed England's unexpected victory on the final afternoon, despite the offer of free entry.
Earlier this month, the club advised the ECB that it would be late in paying its staging fee of £2.5million, and the club is understood to have made a loss in the region of £1.5million on the fixture.
"This decision has been taken following close consultation with Glamorgan CCC and with a view to assisting the club in developing a sustainable long-term business plan for staging international cricket," said David Collier, the ECB chief executive. "ECB recognises that the club has made considerable investment into developing and upgrading the SWALEC stadium and that this has brought considerable benefits to the wider game in England and Wales.
"Glamorgan CCC has assured ECB that it will fully comply with the terms of the staging agreement in relation to its future international matches and further discussions will take place between both parties to ensure that the club continues to remain on a sound financial footing."
Cardiff will keep hold of a potentially lucrative one-day international against India in September, as well as an ODI next year against South Africa, and the ECB said it would treat future bids for matches between 2013-16 strictly on merit. However, its viability as a Test venue is in doubt after the club chairman, Paul Russell, admitted to "conceptual difficulties" in marketing a venue in Wales as a home of English cricket.
The situation was made all the more awkward after it transpired that the ECB had undermined their own bid process in an attempt to bolster the reputation of cricket in Wales. The MCC, who had also bid for the 2012 West Indies Test, are understood to have put in an offer of £1million for the match, although the successful Glamorgan fee was believed to be nearer £600,000.
Had Cardiff remained the host venue, West Indies would have become the first touring team since Sri Lanka in 1998 to be denied a Test at Lord's. That may now be about to change.