Test Match Sofa
Derbys plan £2.5m ground redevelopment
By Andy Wilson
Derbyshire have set out plans for a £2.5m redevelopment of the County Ground and are to ask their members to approve changes to the way the club is run to make sure they can secure the funds to finance it.
In the wake of progress on the field, Derbyshire want to move forward off it too and are looking to build a new pavilion and new media centre in time for the start of the 2014 season. The club is in negotiations with Derby City Council to secure £1.5m of the money they need through the council’s regeneration fund, with the remaining £1m to come from the ECB.
The ECB has made £1m available to each of the first-class counties specifically to improve ground facilities and Derbyshire are one of the five who have yet to submit a business plan to take up that offer. The deadline for submission is the end of March but to help get the ECB’s approval of their plans, chairman Chris Grant says changes have to be made to the governance of the club.
Grant is proposing cutting the size of the committee down from the current 15 to around nine and that everyone on the new committee would have to bring a specific professional skill to the table. This, he says, would see the club operate on more businesslike lines.
The first hurdle has already been cleared, with the committee voting to accept the need for restructuring at their last meeting this month, but Derbyshire still need the members to give their approval. The club will write to all their members this month outlining their case and are to hold forums in Derby and Chesterfield and need to convince two thirds of those who vote to vote in favour.
The result will be announced at a special general meeting straight after the AGM on March 27. “This is not about me or anyone else trying to buy the club. It won’t mean we have paid committee members, nor is it about taking away members’ right to vote. It will very much remain a members-owned club,” said Grant.
“This is about ensuring we have a better qualified group of individuals in place as a board to run the club better on behalf of the members. It’s very rare now you have multi-million pound businesses run by amateurs and we need individuals in place who have specific skills to add value to the club.
“I’m really pleased with the way the committee have reacted and I’m just now crossing my fingers that the members will see the benefit of this as well.
“We believe we could really turn the County Ground into a model non-Test match venue. We’ve made significant progress with the marquee, the Falcons stand and the Gateway and this £2.5m would allow us to continue that work and move forward. In my opinion, it’s the right time to continue to invest with what is happening on the field.
“It is a massive decision for the club and if the will of the members is that they are happy sitting where we are, that’s democracy, but to move the club forward, we do need to go with this model, get those funds and crack on with ground development. If we don’t get the approval, I’m not sure we can move the club forward in the way we want to.”
Derbyshire have taken the new pavilion at Worcester as the model for what they want to build at the County Ground and say this will greatly improve the club’s ability to generate year-round income and so put more finance into the development of the team.
Improving media facilities would be in line with the ECB’s wishes and would reflect the importance of the money the broadcasters, especially Sky Sports, put into the sport.
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