Members of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC), owner of Lord’s Cricket Ground in London, have voted to allow lifetime memberships costing up to £75,000 to support the club amid COVID-19.

The 18,500 full members voted 5,144 to 1,330 at its annual general meeting to permit existing and associate members, those on the waiting list and outsiders to purchase the queue-jumping pass.

Lord’s currently has 12,000 people on its 29-year member waiting list and the lifetime membership offer would effectively allow fans to “jump the queue” if they are happy to pay the full rate. Lifetime memberships for existing members will also be available and will be cheaper for older fans.

The MCC life membership is made up of two components, with the first offer being made to existing members to move from paying and annual subscription to making a one–time payment for life. This portion is divided into age brackets and different membership categories with under 30s to pay £17,000, while over 65s pay £7,225.

The second offer is to new members, which is capped at a maximum of 350. Members have voiced concerns about this option due to potential over-crowding in the pavilion and surrounding stands on big match days if 350 new life members are made.

The fundraising scheme, which has been criticised by many for “bypassing tradition for commercial gain,” has been launched in response to the club’s £30m loss in revenue due to the pandemic.

It will also be used to continue on rebuilding the Compton and Edrich stands, which is the most expensive project in its 233-year history, costing £52m. When rebuilt, the new stands will take the capacity of Lord’s from 28,500 to 31,000.

If the club is unable to raise £15m, any shortfall will have to be found from other sources or the club might have to take on short-term debt.

An MCC spokesman said: “The club could pause the completion of the Compton and Edrich stands until times are easier and remain debt free, but the cost is estimated at [between] £4-5m.

“The committee has considered debt finance, using some combination of borrowing and bonds, but life membership, being wholly within the club’s control, is the most attractive option.”

Image: Ben Sutherland