It has been a hectic few months, with some significant events happening that will have an impact on the Club in both the short and long term. To bring things up-to-date I will cover player signings, Head Coach appointment, the St Lawrence Ground redevelopment, the future of Beckenham, ECB matters and a few other items in this blog.
When I last wrote, I mentioned that we had a working list of 60 potential players; of those we identified, two UK based targets. Michael Powell and Ben Harmison were both in our sights, and we were delighted to agree terms with both. They are both hungry for success and I am sure will fit in well. I am sure all Kent supporters will give them, and Charlie Shreck who has also joined since the end of the 2011 season, a very warm welcome.
We have looked closely at other UK based players, but at the moment have made no firm offers to any – this situation might change as we near the season.
In addition, we continue to monitor the availability of overseas players – it remains a significant challenge to find the right player, available for the right period, at the right price – but we will continue discussions with agents over the coming weeks.
Head Coach Appointment – Jimmy Adams
After a very thorough recruitment process, we were delighted to announce Jimmy Adams as the Club’s new Head Coach on the first day back after the Christmas break. This is an announcement which has been met with much enthusiasm.
We advertised from mid-October and received a tremendous response – the long list was extremely impressive, and narrowing it down not easy – at one stage I spoke to 16 coaches in 48 hours in 9 different countries. From these conversations, and other research we established a short list of seven candidates. All of them went through a number of exercises and interviews, before a selection panel held final interviews and made the appointment.
Jimmy is excited about getting started, and can’t wait to return to the UK – hopefully by 1st February. The visa application process is well under way and I hope we hit this target date. Until then, he will be working through video footage and stats from afar – although with modern technology this is not too challenging.
St Lawrence Ground Redevelopment
Things progress well on the redevelopment front – we have been blessed with perfect weather; certainly a marked improvement on last year’s snow and freezing temperatures. The focus has been on a general tidy up (paving, landscaping etc), and the new Club administration building.
The ‘administration building’, as we are calling it (we must find a better name), will house a convenience store; three residential flats and new Club offices. It was good to be able to announce recently that Sainsbury’s will be taking the ground floor retail space on a long term rental agreement. This will see them operate a Sainsbury’s Local, something I believe will add a great deal to the south Canterbury area, and increase footfall at the St Lawrence Ground.
The building is well advanced – Sainsbury’s fitters will be with us shortly, and all being well should be complete by the first home game of the season.
Canterbury City Council agreed to increase the loan amount last week – we had been in discussion with them for some time regarding this. This will allow us to complete the current phase of the project, without the capital from the sale of land to a hotel. News on this is positive however, and discussions progress well with a possible developer.
It has been an extremely nervy time for the staff at Beckenham, as we worked towards achieving planning permission that would help secure the long term future of our operation at the ground; I would like to thank them for their patience, and I am sure they are now as excited about the future of our London base as I am.
The scheme will see investment in facilities of over £10 million. From a Club perspective, the prospect of a venue with the infrastructure to host County Cricket, and an indoor facility similar to the Academy at Canterbury, is extremely exciting. It should mean that we are able to mount fixtures more cheaply and get a steady stream of talent emerging. I think of the likes of Daniel Bell-Drummond, Adam Ball, Alex Blake and Lydia Greenway who have over the years been backwards and forwards to Canterbury countless times. Talented youngsters from Greenwich, Lewisham, Bromley and Bexley in future will have a county standard facility on their doorstep. This can only help to develop future talent.
There is still a great deal of work to take the outline planning permission we have secured for Beckenham and deliver the vision for the ground, but we are underway, and without planning permission it would never happen.
I would like to thank the London Borough of Bromley, who have been extremely supportive of the Club’s involvement in Beckenham area, and share our passion for seeing it as a second home to Kent Cricket.
Things have been busy in other areas too. We have been working on a new look for the promotion of the St Lawrence Ground’s non-cricket activities and this will go live shortly. It is going to be very important that we sell these tremendous facilities we now have. This has picked up in recent months through word of mouth, but we must now get every room busy every day.
Commercial activity continues to go well, with several new partnerships established in recent months. The run in to the season will be a busy time with lots of work in the pipeline. Again, with wonderful new hospitality areas, there has never been a better time to be a commercial supporter.
Membership sales are slightly ahead of last year which is pleasing. Don’t forget to encourage your friends to become Members – our packages this year offer more variety – and you don’t have to come to all forms of the game to get full membership status.
2010-11 Financial Results
We announced the Club’s financial results for 2010 – 11 last weekend. It was good to announce an operating profit. As I have said elsewhere, there is still much to be done, but it feels better to be announcing a positive result. Full details will be released to Members nearer the Annual General Meeting.
There has been much discussion in the last week about the Morgan report and the likely impact on County Cricket. I only saw the document for the first time on Friday, and will reserve comment until I attend a meeting of County CEO’s next Monday. Be assured however, that we are listening very carefully to the feedback we are receiving from Members and supporters.
Over the coming weeks we step up the preparation for the start of the season – it seems extraordinary that it is only 11 weeks until the opening fixture at Headingley. It will be here in no time at all.