THE company behind the home of Hampshire cricket lost more than £3m last year, new figures reveal.
News of the financial losses comes just months after Eastleigh Borough Council agreed to plough £30m of taxpayer funds into a luxury hotel at the ground and hand over £6.5m for the lease of the 167-acre site.
Council bosses have insisted they were aware of the company’s financial situation when they made the decision, despite the fact that the accounts were posted to Companies House several months late and after the plans had been rubber-stamped by councillors.
Council leader Cllr Keith House said: “We have been very closely aware of the club’s finances and the finances of the ground over many years.
“The council’s investment is secure because it is not in the cricket club, it is in the facilities including the new hotel.
“The whole point of the council’s investment is to create jobs and create growth – that has always underpinned the whole project and we’re not simply trading on cricket alone.
“What these accounts show is a whole series of historic issues.
“The whole point is we have now created a stable commercial environment for the cricket club to exist and grow.”
According to council reports, part of the deal with Eastleigh Borough Council means that rent owed to it from Rose Bowl Plc is guaranteed and in the event of failure, the council would own the hotel.
The total net loss for Rose Bowl Plc in 2011 was £3,275,954 – a figure that the company puts down to substantial sums put into redeveloping the ground, along with “exceptionally high” staging fees that it had to pay to the England and Wales Cricket Board for hosting games.
In a statement at the beginning of the accounts, chairman Rod Bransgrove says factors such as poor weather during major match days also hit operating profits.
Work started last month on a new four-star Hilton Hotel, state-of-the-art media centre, restaurants, a spa and conference facilities, which could be ready by 2014.
A spokesman for the group said: “Rose Bowl Plc posted a substantial net loss in 2011, which included significant costs relating to the well-publicised redevelopment of the ground. There will be further costs relating to the redevelopment in the 2012 accounts, but the underlying trading business has been subjected to due diligence by a number of parties and the company is confident in the outlook for the business moving forward.”