Derbyshire may be forced to move grounds
Relegated Derbyshire may have to leave their home of the last 142 years and move to a new ground outside Derby if they are not to face a long-term future in Division Two, according to chairman Chris Grant.
After the county paid the price for their lack of spending power when defeat against Warwickshire confirmed the end of their one-season stay in Division One, Grant emphasised that without financial support from Derby City Council, who own the County Ground, the club will not be able to develop in a way that allows them to become a sustainable First Division team even if they win promotion again.
And he revealed that two neighbouring district councils - Chesterfield and South Derbyshire -have indicated a willingness to help them set up and develop a new headquarters outside the city.
"We are awaiting a response to a proposal to the city Council for help in the way of assistance for ground development," Grant said. "Through the ECB, we have secured more than £1.7 million of funding for ground development. We can only spend that once and we have to be certain that we are spending in the right place on the right facility.
"A lot of people in the city would like to see us stay here and ideally we would like to stay here but that largely depends on the support that the city council come back with. It costs us £510,000 a year just to maintain the ground as it is, without opening our doors on match days, and that is a significant amount alongside our playing budget compared with the other counties we have been trying to compete with.
"The David v Goliath scenario in terms of revenues and what we can spend on our players will not disappear overnight and that is one of the key reasons why ground development whether it be here or elsewhere would be instrumental to level the playing field.
"The other eight counties have an average of £1.7 million player budget and even though we added £250,000 to ours in the close season that only took us to £1 million, which leaves us the equivalent of seven highly-paid English qualified players worse off than our rivals."
"The city council have just spent £27.5 million on a velodrome at Pride Park and have earmarked another £20 million on an Olympic sized swimming pool.
"We are in ongoing negotiations but so far the cricket club has received nothing in the way of support or commitment. They are prioritising where they believe they need to but we need to know what proposals they can come forward with.
"We have had discussions with a number of other councils in Derbyshire - most notably South Derbyshire and Chesterfield - and they seem to be very receptive if we are looking to move our headquarters."
Grant, who owes his personal wealth to his successful career as a merchant banker, denied he was playing brinkmanship in the hope of forcing Derby Council's hand, insisting that moving was not an empty threat and that the prospect of another authority stepping in was realistic.
"The chief executive of South Derbyshire, Frank McArdle, was instrumental in bringing Toyota, the largest car manufacturing facility in the UK, to South Derbyshire and in creating St George's Park, the FA centre of excellence," Grant said. "I don't deal in brinkmanship - my previous career will tell you that."