Incoming chief executive officer Ben Green is settling into his new role as the 41-year-old father-of-two succeeded Jamie Clifford to head up the club’s business with incoming director of cricket Paul Downton in charge of sporting matters.
This is your first week in the role – how do you feel about becoming CEO of Kent Cricket?
It’s a fantastic opportunity personally and for the club.
It feels like a new era with the appointment of Sam Billings as men’s captain and Paul Downton as director of cricket to drive progress on the field.
How has the role changed with Paul Downton coming in?
I will continue to lead the club’s operations and Paul will be in charge of the business of cricket.
The CEO will oversee the operation and maintenance of our grounds and facilities and the director of cricket will give the playing side a renewed year-round focus.
Paul comes with great credentials both in business and cricket as his CV attests. He is in regular dialogue regarding recruitment and will be joining the squad in Antigua shortly to meet the players and coaches and assess where we need to strengthen.
Are you optimistic for the season ahead?
Yes, it feels like a fresh start with the new faces in the Club although we’ve retained some key staff to drive success in 2018.
The men’s squad have flown out to Antigua on the FGS Plant Tour and the women’s squad have begun training at The County Ground, Beckenham.
Paul Downton will be working closely with the captains and coaches to strengthen the squads for the season ahead.
Allan Donald’s arrival is another boost to support and nurture the players – having someone of his experience can only benefit our on-field endeavours.
Our focus will be growing the business to support Paul and the squads as on-field success has to be the focus for the Club.
What’s your professional background?
I’ve spent 17 years in sports administration, starting at our oldest rivals Surrey before taking up a role at the ECB on the operations side working with first class venues, broadcasters, facilities, safety and security.
I was then privileged to work at the All England Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon delivering two Championships before joining Kent Cricket as operations director in August 2017.
There was a lot of changes off the pitch in recent years with developments at The Spitfire Ground and The County Ground, Beckenham. What can we expect to see under your stewardship?
In my time as operations director, we’ve looked at all the buildings and facilities from top to bottom.
It’s important that we make incremental improvements season-by-season to enhance the experience when people visit the grounds, not only for matches but our growing events and hospitality business.
We will be improving accessibility in the grounds and toilets.
How do you see the business?
Jamie Clifford, former chairman George Kennedy and current chairman Simon Philip in his role as honorary treasurer did a tremendous job to steer the club through some troubled times.
Debts are at the lowest level since 2010 which means the business is in a much more sustainable place.
The commercial, sales, marketing and communications teams work tirelessly to attract sponsors and drive ticket and membership sales, which went up again last year.
We still want to do more to become a year-round business with the clinic, bars and catering as well as hosting community clubs and groups in our sports facilities and running events such as our popular November 5 fireworks displays.
Conferences and functions are proving increasingly popular at the grounds, which surpassed sales targets last year.
All this activity supports what we are trying to achieve on the pitch.
The club won an award for its commercial partnership to drive community outreach programmes. How important is the grassroots game to the club?
Vital, cricket in clubs and schools drive interest, passion and enjoyment of the sport.
Our community cricket director Andy Griffiths and his team are reaching out to all corners of Kent and South East England.
Thanks to our partners, sponsors and charities like Chance to Shine and Lord’s Taverners, we are growing our support for clubs, schools, the disability game, women’s and girls cricket at all levels.
Canterbury Christ Church University’s support for our successful record-breaking women’s squad and Kent Reliance’s backing of our visually impaired, learning and physically disability programmes are great examples of this.
We are also working closely with ECB to deliver the All Stars Cricket programme aimed at encouraging 5-8 year olds to pick up a bat for the first time and make clubs more sustainable in the longer term.
Photo courtesy of KM/Kent Online/Gary Browne