A recent letter, sent by Chairman of the Derbyshire County Cricket Club Supporters' Club Colin Gardner to its members, explained that the Supporters Club Committee has resigned and the Supporters’ Club has effectively been wound-up.
Unfortunately, the letter contains a number of allegations that are not a true reflection of events and, as I am sure you will appreciate, there are always two sides to every story.
I do not usually comment on such matters but in this case, where the reputation of Derbyshire County Cricket Club, the DCCC Committee and indeed my own reputation are called into question, I will set out the detailed and accurate chain of events for you.
About a month ago, I approached Colin to ask what the procedure was to make a request to the Supporters’ Club for funds on behalf of DCCC. Colin informed me that I would need to write a letter setting out our request, which would then be considered by him and other members of his Committee and he would come back to me with an answer.
The request was for a donation of £2,500 to buy a piece of physiotherapy equipment called a Game Ready, which aids player rehabilitation after injury. Previously, Jamie Pipe, the Club's physiotherapist had been borrowing one from Nottingham Forest FC but this was far from ideal as he increasingly was not able to rely on having access to it when required. As a result, we risked our players’ recovery from injury being delayed with a resultant risk to our team’s performance on the field.
Since we had not built the purchase of a machine into the Club's 2012 Budget, we made the request to the Supporters Club for assistance in line with their stated objective of raising funds to be used for the County Cricket Club.
At the last meeting of the DCCC General Committee, Colin handed me a letter on behalf of the Supporters’ Club offering £1,500 towards the purchase of the Game Ready. On the face of it, this was a seemingly generous contribution. However, I had already pointed out that we required the whole sum of £2,500. In addition, there were a number of conditions attached to the Supporters’ Club donation that were unacceptable in light of the fact that the full sum requested was not forthcoming. One of these related to restrictions on the type of use the equipment could be put to.
A debate then ensued within the Committee Room about the level of funds actually being held within the Supporters’ Club and the apparent lack of transparency in relation to this. Colin consistently refused to reveal what funds the Supporters’ Club was presently holding.
Eventually, at the request of a fellow DCCC General Committee Member who was also a Supporters’ Club member, he revealed that the Supporters Club had around £3,500 in its current account with a further £9,500 in a savings account - a total of some £13,000 in all.
At this point, I would point you to the three original Objectives of the Supporters Club stated in their Rules, Revised 1997:
(a) To foster interest and support for the County Club and Derbyshire County Cricket
(b) To assist in raising funds to be used for the County Cricket Club
(c) To assist in increasing the membership of the County Club
I would also point to the fact that there are a number of other Supporters’ Clubs around the First Class Counties who turn over all their funds to the County Club at the end of each year and who also run a host of fund raising events; eg dinners and away trips - the Balconiersat Glamorgan being a prime example of a thriving and successful Supporters’ Branch.
Clearly, in the last 50 years, the Supporters Club has provided valuable financial support to the County Cricket Club. However, at this point in the discussion, Colin then acknowledged that running a Club like those of other Counties was increasingly difficult given his age and health and that of many of his Committee.
Consequently, he was asked to arrange a meeting with Simon Storey, our new Chief Executive, to discuss the future operation and structure of the Supporters’ Club and to try and iron out the impasse in relation to funding the purchase of the Game Ready for the Physiotherapy Dept.
Despite a request from the Chief Executive to convene a meeting, both Colin and his daughter, Clare Bolton, Secretary of the Supporters Club, declined. Instead, Colin chose to discuss the issue with David Baggett (the Club's statistician) with inaccurate and selective accounts about what had occurred in the Committee Meeting. David Baggett, in turn, e-mailed Mark Eklid, cricket correspondent at the Derby Telegraph who then contacted me to ask why I was closing the Supporters’ Club down.
Colin then wrote to all Supporters’ Club Members announcing that he and the Supporters’ Club Committee were resigning and the bookshop was closing; laying the blame squarely at my door.
In my view, the actions of Colin and his Committee are unacceptable and wholly inconsistent with what we are trying to achieve here at Derbyshire County Cricket Club. They have deliberately set out to alienate a section of the DCCC membership and have actively done everything possible to undermine my personal reputation.
For the last two years, I have devoted my entire existence as Chairman to doing the best I possibly can and in the interests of cricket in Derbyshire. Let me reinforce to you now my intentions and what I am seeking to achieve here for Derbyshire County Cricket Club:
- I agreed to take on the role of Chairman of Derbyshire CCC, against the advice of a number of my closest confidants, in the wake of a damaging Committee split with the former Chairman of which I was not a part. In so doing I have committed myself to the task 100% and closed the door on returning to a very lucrative career in the City.
- When I took over, DCCC were bottom of the league in the preceding season and had just lost £187k.
- I acted to unite the Committee and re-assure our bankers with a personal guarantee of our overdraft if required. I have also injected £50k into the Club personally with no kick-back in terms of sponsorship or headlines.
- I took the very tough but correct decision to remove the First Team Coach who had presided over a bottom of the table finish and a squad where the overwhelming majority had lost confidence in him and gave his successor a very clear published Cricket Strategy to work to. (This is the first time we have had a route map for cricket in the Club's history).
- With the hard work of Keith and his whole commercial team we enjoyed a £200k financial turnaround last year.
- I have also secured a successor to Keith as Chief Executive who has a world class CV and is capable of taking Derbyshire CCC to the next level.
- We are also currently top of the LV=CC Division Two with the most stable dressing room in living memory and an exciting team with real potential for the future.
- We now have a coaching staff across both the DCB and DCCC who are all aiming in the same direction with a clear vision for future success.
All my decisions have been made with the support of the Committee and for the benefit of DCCC’s long term future; many have been tough and many should have been addressed well before my time.
For me, the Supporters’ Club issue is a seminal moment in defining what Derbyshire CCC really is about and where we are going as a County Cricket Club.
Every time we take our focus off building a competitive and sustainable County Cricket Club on and off-the-field, our continued First Class status will be questioned.
I have fought tirelessly to improve our standing with the ECB and with the new Chief Executive, I want to build the model non-test match ground for Derbyshire CCC with state of the art facilities for players, members and supporters.
I want to strengthen the Derbyshire brand to rival the likes of Somerset and transform our finances by opening up commercial deals with multinationals.
I want to bring success on the field, working with Krikk to establish Derbyshire as a genuine competitor for silverware and continuing to bring exciting new talent to the field through our DCB and DCCC player pathways.
However, Simon, Krikk and I can only do this if we are not devoting much of our time to fire fighting against people who don't have the wider interests of the Club at heart and instead are living in the past with inward looking, selfish interest at their core.
World cricket and the professional game have never been moving faster and we need to respond positively. Members need to decide what sort of future you want for Derbyshire CCC. We need to be very aware of what is happening at the highest level in English cricket and, I make no bones about it, if we stand still and continue to focus on trivia, our County Club will wither and die. This would be a tragedy.
I continue to put my best efforts into the Chairman's role in the long term interests of cricket in Derbyshire. I hope this letter helps answer your questions and provides clarity on what I am trying to achieve.
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