Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Grant leaves with mission (partly) accomplished

The news that Chris Grant is not standing for re-election as chairman at Derbyshire County Cricket Club comes as a surprise, yet in some ways as no surprise.

The Derbyshire chairman has made a great impression on Derbyshire cricket and on the wider cricket world since coming into post and there were always strong possibilities of him going on to greater things (if there are greater things than being chairman of Derbyshire...)

A role with the governing board of the ECB seems likely and Grant's wish to avoid a conflict of interest in doing the two jobs together has meant a parting of the ways with the county of his birth.

Six years in such a job is a great commitment and to his immense credit he has worked tirelessly on the club's behalf for no personal gain. I'm not sure that the club could have afforded what he put in anyway and having a man with his background, passion for the club and willingness to 'press the flesh' and get involved will have been appreciated by most.

Of course he will have regrets. In every job you will have those and there will be aspects of his time with the club that I am sure that he would do differently, with the great benefit of hindsight. I know from my chats with him that he took no pleasure from the departures of John Morris, Karl Krikken and Graeme Welch, but the world of professional sport is an unforgiving one and tough decisions need to be made at times.

None of them were taking the club to where we hoped to be and there were issues with all. Krikken came closest to the ideal, gaining a division two championship with a side that played aggressive cricket, something that sadly dissipated in the top tier as we immdiately fell back down the following summer. Morris recruited a better class of player than we had seen for some time, while Welch encouraged youth and sowed the seeds for a potentially fine side in the future. They were good men, but for varying reasons their tenures were shorter than they might otherwise have been.

Perhaps bringing a once-disaffected Kim Barnett back into the fold will prove his defining moment, a man who had lost contact with the club once more involved and leading a winter of recruitment that has been better than any in living memory, one that might just see a return to the excitement of 2012.

Which is what Grant has worked for, of course. He came into a club that, if not down on its knees, was about to announce an overdraft that sent a bell ringing as the end of the round came. As he said to me in his interview for my last book, had steps not been taken at that point to address some serious areas of concern and overspending, there may well have been a supermarket on the site of the ground now.

How things have changed. Each year since has yielded a small, yet significant profit, one that confirmed us as among the best run clubs in the country. He has worked well with his long-time friend Simon Storey, a chief executive of some brilliance and transformed a cricket team in an open space into a cricket club in a stadium, one which hosts events of local and national importance and will form a focal point of this summer's Women's World Cup.

Off-field affairs have never been more encouraging and this has enabled the club to recruit in both a prudent and exciting manner. While some big name recruits failed, prospects for this summer are bright and the additional revenue streams that have been created have played a full part in this.

Like anyone in any walk of life, Chris Grant will have his detractors, but he can leave the role with his head held high. If one judges success in any position as leaving things in a better place than when you started, he has exceeded all expectations.

We didn't build on that wonderful summer of 2012 and I guess that will be his one big regret, but Derbyshire are in rude health, with excellent facilities, a competitive staff and an off-field operation that, pound for pound, will stand up against the very best in the country.

I am sure that all of you, like me, wish him the very best in his future ventures, though I know it will not be the last time we see him at the 3aaa County Ground. He is much too big a fan to give up on that.

I know little about Ian Morgan, his replacement as chairman, other than what is on the official CV. As a lifetime supporter and a shrewd businessman he has the key attributes for success.

He will know all too well that he has some big shoes to fill and I will discuss the new appointments, his included, in a future piece when they are announced.

For now - Chris, thank you.

Onwards and upwards - for you and for Derbyshire.


DaveDerby. said...

I think Chris Grant leaves DCCC with his mission partly accomplished. It's very unfortunate that we couldn't build on our promotion season, but that is the nature of sport.
As you say Peakfan, we now have a proper stadium for our club to play in, and i'm sure the improvements will continue. A lot of the improvements must go down to the drive and foresight of Mr Grant.
As far as the team goes, I don't think I have looked forward to a summer as much as I am this year. I remain convinced that another batsman will come in and possibly a T20 player also.
I wish him 'all the best' in his new position.
As you say Peakfan 'onwards and upwards'.

Steve H said...

Mr Grant has led the ship to calmer waters, that's for sure, but what prompts me to write is the tone of the club's press release of the new Advisory Board and assumptions made.

It's great that people of quality and standing are stepping forward, but I do get a whiff of " we all know better than you lot " in the release!

I'm unfamiliar with membership roles and powers, so probably we have to accept those nominations anyway, and in some ways I don't care that much, but I don't like condescension.

Perhaps it's because I'm over 50 and have time to write similar to " Disgusted of Darley Abbey" , or other such Daily Mail shires sort, but I wondered what others thought?

If I'm out on my own....well, it won't be the first time 😊

notoveryet said...

I don't think the timing of the release was coincidental. Any member can be nominated for the Board by Feb 15th, so the release of the nominations for the new Board presumably shows that no other nominations were made. To that extent, it is a done deal, as there's no voting if there is only one nominee.

The amount of churn in the board is surprising though. As far as I can see, five out of the six are new, and alongside the churn on the coaching and cricket management side (apparently now including the strength and conditioning coach) the CEO and one board member are the only links to the previous senior management of the club. Some of this, presumably, is about having a compliant governance body with greater diversity - for example the legal director is an Asian woman from the same firm as the previous white male legal director - and there is some substantial commercial experience coming in. But it is a lot of change in a very short time, but welcome and necessary as the change may be, you have to hope that continuity won't be lost at a time when the club is finding a new sense of direction.

Ash said...

Do members get a vote on who they want on the board?