Grant explains 'calculated risk' of Div One spending
PROMOTION last season also moved Derbyshire County Cricket Club into a higher division of spending.
After years of prudent housekeeping and making do on one of the smallest budgets in county cricket, the club have pushed the boat into deeper waters to prepare for the new challenge of Division One in the LV County Championship.
Signing a player like Shivnarine Chanderpaul does not come cheap and that outlay comes on top of money committed to the signings of Billy Godleman and Richard Johnson this winter, plus a raft of extended and improved contracts for the current squad.
Chairman Chris Grant calls it a "calculated risk" and has called on the Derbyshire public and local businesses to back the county club to help them make sure it pays off.
With every new aerial installed by AMC aerials I will fit an extra point in your bedroom or kitchen for an extra £10
New aerials fitted from £70
Call Adrian on 01332 418856
Terms: Must be an aerial supplied and fitted by AMC aerials
Contact: 01332 418856
Valid until: Friday, July 12 2013
"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."
Much of Simon Storey's time, since he took over as chief executive from Keith Loring, has been spent on getting the county's message out to businesses but getting anyone to part with their money these days is not easy.
"In this economic environment it's difficult across the board, from the very biggest companies to the small businesses," added Grant.
"Simon is working extremely hard on that but it's not an overnight process. You need to ensure it's not just a name on a shirt or an advertising board but it's what the club can give the business too.
"We have had a number of new businesses sign up – none of them as yet major names but local businesses that are proud to be Derbyshire. That's encouraging but I would appeal to more businesses around the county – we are flying the flag for Derbyshire, come and give us a try.
"We feel we've got an extremely good value offer here to suit everybody from those who just want to bring their best customer down for a game and a meal to those who could be interested in naming rights for the ground."
After a winter push aimed at the ordinary members, with savings on offer for those who join before February 1, Derbyshire have been cheered by the public response so far and hope the arrival of Chanderpaul will see another surge of memberships being taken up before the season starts.
"We're already up something like 25% in how much we have taken in membership fees relative to the amount we took last year," said Grant.
"We've had Early Bird offers, which may have encouraged people to bring their decision to buy a membership forward, so those figures may not be a completely true indication but it certainly appears as if the promotion has reignited people's interest.
"We have had quite a few lapsed members who have re-joined and we hope making a signing like Shiv will swell the coffers and underpin the extra investment we've made in securing his services and tying in the key members of last year's squad."
Derbyshire are set to announce another small surplus for 2012, once the auditors have finished running their checks on the books. It will be the sixth time in the last seven years they have stayed in the black, which is some effort, but Grant knows it could be tough to match that in 2013.
"To sustain a competitive team in Division One we are targeting incremental revenues of roughly a quarter of a million. 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 testament to Keith, 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."