Test Match Sofa
Grant reveals price of Derbys ambition
By Andy Wilson
Derbyshire chairman Chris Grant has admitted the club has taken a “calculated risk” with its financial security in its ambition to become an established Division One county.
The newly-promoted club moved into a higher league of spending by recruiting West Indies batsman Shivnarine Chanderpaul on a two-year contract to be their overseas player this week. That followed the signings earlier in the winter of Billy Godleman and Richard Johnson and the announcement of extended and improved contracts for almost all of last-season’s LV= County Championship Division Two title-winning squad.
Derbyshire has, in recent years, taken great pride in its record of financial prudence and good housekeeping. The club has no debt and is set to announce a small surplus for 2012 – the sixth time in the last seven years it has stayed in the black.
But Grant has taken the decision to loosen the purse strings in preparation for the challenge of top flight cricket and has called on the Derbyshire public and local businesses to back the county club to help them make sure it pays off.
“I don’t really want to use the expression ‘speculate to accumulate’ but it’s that kind of situation,” said Grant. “We want to capitalise on the fact that we are going to be playing Division One cricket this summer, from a commercial and a membership perspective, but we also felt we had to be serious about wanting to compete in Division One.
“Securing somebody like Chanderpaul, while it’s costly, is going to give us a much better chance to compete. When we sat down to discuss making a bid, we collectively thought he would be that landmark signing we were looking for but we knew somebody like Shiv is clearly going to cost more than a less experienced international player to bring in.
“As with any international player, it’s not just the actual salary these days; it’s the accommodation, a decent car, business-class flights etcetera that comes as part of that package. That’s partly driven by the fact that we’re competing in a global market for these players, with the Big Bash in Australia, the IPL and he’s playing at the moment in the Caribbean twenty20. We’re not always the number one port of call these days for players.
“Already, we’ve seen from feedback on the social media sites that people recognise this is a big name and he will help put bums on seats. We’re somewhat touching wood but we’re hopeful that the calculated risk we’ve taken on paying for a top-notch international player will reap dividends in terms of bringing more people in and encouraging more businesses down here as well.”
Grant and chief executive Simon Storey have already had some success in attracting more small to mid-range businesses to give their backing to Derbyshire and remain hopeful that the county’s blue chip names can also be drawn to the County Ground.
Membership revenue is up by around 25 per cent on the figure for last year, though that might be partly because discounted rates are on offer for those who join before February 1. With the Chanderpaul factor having already ignited much interest in the county, Grant hopes many more businesses and supporters will rally behind Derbyshire.
“To sustain a competitive team in Division One we are targeting incremental revenues of roughly a quarter of a million pounds. That’s going to be no mean feat to achieve,” he added.
“Having closed the books on 2012, we’re absolutely delighted that we should be in the black again. That’s a major achievement against the backdrop of the summer we had along with the on-going recession and is testament to Keith Loring, and then Simon when he took over and all the people off the field at the club. I think our figures will sit very proudly against other counties.
“As for this year, yes, a lot does rest on bringing in this incremental revenue but so far the early signs are positive. I couldn’t put my hand on my heart and say we will break even this year yet because we have to get a lot of these new sponsors in, signed and sealed, but we are seeing positive signs and that augurs well at this early stage without the Chanderpaul factor added in yet.”
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