It is perhaps fitting that Colin Povey should end his first year at Edgbaston by announcing a #1million sponsorship package.
Warwickshire’s chief executive has endured some uncomfortable moments over those first 12 months. Heckled at forums, derided on the club’s message boards and mistrusted by those who seem to fear his business acumen, there must have been times he wondered what he taken on.
The deals announced yesterday however – a ten-year package worth #1million with Marston’s and a kit deal worth #25,000 with Surridge that will reduce the price of replica shirts for supporters – are the first tangible signs that the seeds of Povey’s regime are bearing fruit.
To put these deals in perspective, when Povey and his right-hand man James McLaughlin (commercial director) took charge a year ago, the club had no sponsorship deals and nothing in the pipeline. Unpalatable though it may sound, the club was dying.
"We were living beyond our means," Povey agrees. "We had scrimped and saved too much and not invested enough in the ground, the team or the associated businesses.
"We were faced with a hardening position from the ECB over staging agreements for international matches – which are absolutely vital for us – and certain areas of the ground were beginning to look very tired. Our club offices were close to dangerous."
Matters came to head on July 7. With a full house at Edgbaston to watch a Twenty20 match, there was a power cut. To add insult to injury, the opponents were local rivals Worcestershire. Oh, how they chuckled.
It was an embarrassing incident for a club of Warwickshire’s stature. With a sheet for a sidescreen, a sub-standard wicket, and an inability even to provide a scoreboard, Edgbaston’s claim to be a world-class venue looked risible. Suddenly it was revealed for the tired, ill old man that it had become.
"The power cut was the most visible manifestation of what we all knew was wrong behind the scenes," Povey recalls. "It wasn’t good enough and we accept that. We’ve spent #450,000 upgrading the ground this winter and we will do the same every year.
"But I wasn’t shocked. Ian Metcalf [the club’s vice-chairman who was a key figure in Povey’s recruitment] explained the situation very accurately before I came. I knew what to expect."
He cannot have expected the hostile reception he received from members at a forum shortly after the incident, however. With the team struggling, the pitch resembling a minefield and the power supply intermittent, he would probably concede it wasn’t the smartest time to suggest that club membership was far too cheap.
But what did emerge from the boos of that night was an honest assessment of the club’s position. Because for all the criticism from members and the media, the harshest words about the club actually came from Povey. He was scathing. About the pitches, the infrastructure, the organisation and the management. The club had to improve. And he knew it.
Some were shocked. But Povey’s words should have been music to the ears of all lovers of Warwickshire. They signalled an end to the denial and self-delusion that had held the club back. Here, at last, was a man who was going to say what needed to be said; not what we all wanted to hear.
"We have the potential to be something special," Povey says. "I mean a club of the stature of Manchester United or Liverpool. The aspiration is for a top-notch side, in a world-class venue, playing a leading role in the local community. We can achieve that.
"We have a lot to do, though. We need to have a successful team and we need a ground that can guarantee us international cricket. With the likes of Cardiff and Southampton coming on stream, there will not be enough international cricket to go round. We have to ensure we retain it at Edgbaston. We could face the prospect of only one ground in the midlands winning a Test; we have to make sure it’s us.
"I accept that we haven’t taken all the members with us. I know that they don’t all like the talk about business plans and models. What they want is a successful team, and I understand that. If we win, most of them will be happy. Fair enough.
"All I would say is give us some time. Judge us as we deliver. If, a little way down the road, we don’t have a top team and they aren’t impressed by the ground, then fine. We will have failed. But, for now, give us some time.
"I don’t blame the members for being upset last year. The venue was shabby and we didn’t always play great cricket. But I can reassure them over the PLC issue; I just don’t think it’s necessary."
More announcements are imminent. This is likely to be the first of three equally large sponsorship packages, while the club will unveil its ground redevelopment plans at the AGM on Wednesday.
The scale is staggering. They are significant not just for the club, but for the city. The pavilion alone is likely to cost well in excess of #20m, while the wider development, encompassing a large site up to the Pershore Road, will greatly exceed that figure. Remarkably, Povey is hoping not to have to borrow any of the money.
He may not have won them over yet, but Warwickshire’s members may come to be very grateful for the arrival of Povey.
*Warwickshire have also announced a no smoking policy for Edgbaston (though there will be designated smoking areas), and provided more details overs their parking charges. Spectators will be able to use the car park free for the first two hours, but thereafter must pay #3 (members) and #5 (non-members).
* What are your opinions of Colin Povey's tenure at Edgbaston? Tell us at the messageboard.