Sometimes it’s a delight to be proved wrong.
There have been times over the last 12 months when Worcestershire’s luck appeared so awful that the very future of the club was under threat. I confess that I was among those who feared for its future.
Not any more. Not only has the club bounced back financially from the devastation caused by last year’s flooding, but they are now ready to begin the redevelopment of their New Road ground which should safeguard their future for many years to come.
Such has been the response to the club’s appeal for help that they have already recouped almost £1 million of the losses incurred by last lost in the floods.
A legal loophole (what a delight it is to see the insurers on the wrong end of such events for a change) resulted in the club receiving a payout of £370,00; Advantage West Midlands donated £100,000; The ECB gave £170,000, The National Sports Foundation gave £55,000; The Supporters’ Association gave £50,000 and a series of donations added up to a further £30,000.
Most heartening of all, perhaps, is the news that the Flood Club has now reached (and exceeded) 150 members. That means that more than 150 people have donated £1,000 each; a sure sign of the affection in which the club is held. Sir John Major has been invited to speak at the Flood Club dinner on November 14 and the names of all Flood Club Members will be commemorated on a board in the new pavilion.
Ah, that new pavilion. It will be built this winter and should be officially opened on the first day of the tourist game against Australia. It will be a two-storey building, built above the level of all but one of the floods in the last 150 years, and will cost between £1.5 ?million and £2 ?million pounds.
The club will have to borrow that money but Price describes the relationship with the bank as “excellent” and the hope is that game against Australia could bring in around £200,000. As England Lions, rather than Worcestershire, will be the home team, members will be required to pay for entry.
The old pavilion, meanwhile, will be dismantled as soon as the season is over. Its listed central core will then stored until it can installed in the area now occupied by the Ladies Pavilion.
Negotiations with a national hotel chain are also at an advanced stage. It is anticipated that the building of the hotel will fund the rest of the ground redevelopment.
The only snag is the requirement to re-apply for planning permission as the hotel chain wish to build a 120-room three-star facility. Permission was originally granted for an 80-room, four-star hotel, though the exterior dimensions and size of the building will not change at all.
It would surely be a perverse council that objected to such a minor change. Indeed, it is worth noting that Birmingham City Council have offered to lend Warwickshire a substantial portion of the funds required for the redevelopment of Edgbaston. Perhaps the authorities in Worcestershire might like to follow suit?
“This should send a very strong message that we’re not moving,” club chairman ‘Percy’ Price told The Post. “We never really considered it. How much would it cost? I’ve no idea but it wasn’t ever an option.
“The success of the Flood Club, launched at the end of 2007, is tremendous. It just shows the amazing affection there is for the club from right around the world.”
Membership of the Flood Club is still available. Visit www.wccc.co.uk for details.