'Incredible' Ashes series to net ECB extra £20m

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The ECB's current income is around £80m a year, with its main revenue streams coming from broadcasting and sponsorship deals with Channel 4 - to be replaced by Sky next year - and Vodafone.

Those are long-term, "ring-fenced" agreements, and no matter how successful England are in this Ashes, they will not lead to extra cash for the ECB. Nor will the ECB receive a windfall from record Ashes ticket sales. The five host grounds, not the ECB, retain most of those profits.

Yet the unprecedented public interest in the national team - 8.4 million people watched the climax of the fourth Test at Trent Bridge on Sunday - has created a profitable market for DVDs, replica kits and computer games. Longer-term, and more lucrative, commercial deals, including licensing agreements for England merchandise, are in the pipeline, while future overseas broadcasting deals are being negotiated.

"The interest has been phenomenal and it's a tremendously exciting time for English cricket," John Perera, the ECB's commercial director, said yesterday. "We hope our income will grow to a minimum of £100m per year within the next few years, and this incredible Ashes series is a springboard."

The ECB is already making money from a rush-released DVD, "The Greatest Test", of England's win at Edgbaston, which has sold 30,000 copies. An Ashes compilation DVD, priced around £25, is planned for October, and sales of between 150,000 and 200,000 are expected. Sales of replica England shirts are up by 100 per cent, an increase of "tens of thousands", while an England computer game, by EA Sports, an ECB partner, is riding high in the charts. The ECB takes a cut from all the above.

Also making money from England's success are ticket touts. Black market seats for a day at the final Test at the Oval are being advertised at up to £1,000 each. The match is a sell-out, and the ECB is erecting a giant screen in Regent's Park on the Saturday and Sunday, when an overspill crowd is expected.

* England's success has prompted an unprecedented sell-out of today's Twenty20 benefit match for the captain, Michael Vaughan, at Headingley.

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