It has been a heck of a week and not one that proved the ideal build up for the Vitality Blast T20 competition, which began on Wednesday night at Trent Bridge.
The club chose the eve of its first game against Lancashire at the 3aaa County Ground tonight to unveil its plans for a new Head of Cricket role and the successful applicant will manage the cricket side of the club's operation. Quite rightly, as I wrote was required the other day, he will now have budgetary and contract control and will have the sports science side of the club under his 'umbrella', while still giving the captain a degree of autonomy, which is important. I like the model, while accepting that it needs a strong, experienced and confident captain at its head.
In other words, it is a structure that is largely that as defined by Kim Barnett, yet with a degree of irony that is not lost on many supporters, will not have the county legend in the role.
It is not one that will come without cost, of course. A new head of cricket with the requisite skills (one assumes a level three or four coaching badge would be essential) will not come cheap and the coaching costs beneath the role will not be inconsiderable. The club will need the promised £1.3 million a year from the ECB to make it work, as it would be impossible on current resources without losing a couple of the higher earning players. And let's face it, we're not carrying a large staff at the moment.
Again, though, and harking back to my earlier comments on greater transparency in communications, the press release did not tell the full picture. Call me a pedant, if you will, but in a career that has taken me through local government, civil service and retail press releases by the bucket load, I always strive for accuracy and a lack of ambiguity in the message.
Yesterday's press release quotes chairman Ian Morgan saying that the cricket budget has increased by 40% since 2012, which is true and, on the face of it laudable. Yet it is not quite what it seems.
Among my large collection of club cricket memorabilia and information, I hold a set of club annual reports over the past thirty years or so. They are not often dipped into, because the information therein is hardly of a 'blockbuster read' level.
Yet what they show is that in 2012 the club was spending 66.5% of its total income on the cricket side of the business, £1,521, 068 from a total of £2,287,798
By 2017 the spend had, as the club say, increased to £1,959, 97 but that was only 59.73% of the total spend of £3,280.979.
So in REAL terms we are spending less on the cricket side. Had that 2012 percentage spend been maintained, we would have had £2,181,851 spent on the cricket side, an extra £221,873.
That percentage spend on the cricket side increased to 67.91% and 68.16% in 2013 and 2014, since when it has dropped to 66%, 62.43% and 59.73% in the three years that followed.
Yes, I know the off field operation generates cash for the cricket side, but it has also, on that basis, taken a sizeable chunk from it in real terms. While the club has had some genuine successes, with the Elton John concert and the fireworks display among them, they have run other things less successfully, with the Boyzone concert as a prime example. That is aside from the 'egg in face' impact that losing the Kent game to weather at Chesterfield had as a consequence. We were very lucky to escape that one without sanction.
In my various roles over the years I have put on literally hundreds of events, including festivals, concerts, conferences and much more. I know that they can be a fragile beast, the late appearance of a major event on the same night significantly impacting on your audience and a break even, let alone a profit.Without researching counter attractions, you can be doomed to failure before you start. Look at the impact the England World Cup quarter-final has had on this weekend's cricket for a classic example. Imagine the bride whose big day will be impacted by those following the football...
But going back to my theme of transparency, all that was needed in that press release was the insertion of a sentence to the tune of 'we strive to get back to a point where 2/3 of all of our expenditure as a club is on the cricket side of the business'.
Without that, the transparency that I referred to isn't there. And let's face it, we are a cricket club, so shouldn't that be a realistic goal?
Needs more work, for me. I think that a cricket club SHOULD be spending two thirds of its money on cricket. By all means continue the excellent work that goes on, but carefully study what is losing money.
It may be laudable, but if it ain't lucrative, it should be surplus to requirements.