Cricket - Arthur targeting ticket sales

Mark Arthur started work as Yorkshire's new chief executive and immediately set himself the task of improving ticket sales for the New Zealand Test match later this month.

PA Sport
Cricket - Arthur targeting ticket sales
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Mark Arthur has a commendable long-term vision for Yorkshire

Arthur, who previously worked as CEO of Nottinghamshire and Nottingham Forest, has a commendable long-term vision for the White Rose county, including strengthening links with local schools and recreational clubs. But he accepts that must take a back seat in the short term as he focuses on making a success of the second Test, which begins on May 24.

"The short-term objective for me is to have a really successful Test match in three weeks' time," said Arthur. "Having the second Test of the season so early doesn't give you much time to get tickets sold and that's what we are going to be working hard on for the next three weeks."

Test match revenue is crucial to the club's recovering financial position, but advance sales are more sluggish than anticipated.

With the Champions Trophy and the Ashes both attracting more headlines than New Zealand's visit, Yorkshire have currently sold around 9,000 tickets for day one and between 10,000-12,000 for days two and three against a capacity of 17,000.

Arthur's predecessor in the role, chairman Colin Graves, offered a more colourful description of the task. Sitting next to Arthur at a Headingley press conference, he added: "We're not a million miles away but it needs a kick up the backside.

"We're somewhere in the region of 25% behind what we'd budgeted for. The budget was for a full ground on days two and three and 85-90% full on day one. But it isn't a disaster. Everybody has struggled to sell May Tests because it's not easy to sell tickets when it's been snowing three weeks before."

Arthur also had a chance to cast his mind forward to the next round of staging agreements with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The current match packages have been allocated up to 2019 and by the time the next bundles are put up for tender, Arthur hopes Headingley can be in a strong position.

"This is a personal view, but I believe there are six Test match grounds in England, six traditional ones," he said. "If I was an overseas cricketer I would want to play were all my predecessors had played.

"But I think we have to make Headingley one of the best four grounds in the country so that when the ECB are allocating games next the facilities, the welcome that we give, the environment and the ground itself are all up there with the very best."

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