Published: 14:14, 15 December 2021
| Updated: 19:32, 15 December 2021
Renovation of one of Kent’s stands at The Spitfire Ground will cost “at least £300,000”, the county's chief executive has announced.
Kent say it's hoped the Frank Woolley Stand at the Canterbury ground will be fit for purpose for at least 20 years after the work is completed, with renovation being funded by the England Cricket Board (ECB) Facilities and Maintenance fund along with members’ donations.
Announcing the news in an update to supporters on their website, Kent's Simon Storey said it’s suggested the stand will be back functioning next summer.
Storey also confirmed how Kent had voted with regards to the County Championship format in 2022.
The competition is to revert back to two divisions after two seasons under revised structures due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with Kent in Division 1.
Storey said: “The club voted in favour of the structure of the County Championship returning to two divisions, as opposed to conferences, going into next season.
“We are yet to receive details of fixtures and the ECB have advised us they will be released as early as possible in 2022.
“We understand that a number of details are still to be confirmed – such as tour schedules, venues for international and major matches – all of which have an impact on the domestic schedule.
“We understand that you are looking to plan ahead for next summer.”
The county hopes the capacity at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, "will return to pre-pandemic levels" in 2022 as well.
It is currently set at 6,000 - with the county having invested £30,000 in their new membership and ticketing system in 2021.
Storey also congratulated Kent head of grounds Adrian Llong, who won the ECB’s One-Day award for Grounds Manager-of-the-Year.
He added: “In preparation for the new season, the club has invested more than £36,000 in new machinery and, over the winter, will undertake an extensive programme of maintenance to improve drainage on the outfield at Canterbury, particularly at the Old Dover Road side of the ground.”
Financial results for the year ending October 31, 2021, will be released in February but Storey did say Kent received more than £42,000 of donations from life members and members, on top of the £220,000 of annual subscriptions retained in 2020 during the pandemic, on top of usual revenue streams.
Storey added: “The club would like to reiterate its thanks for the exceptional generosity of members, and the hard work from administration staff and the committee to ensure that the club has been able to survive the financial challenges caused by the pandemic.”
However Storey said some administration staff and stewards “were subjected to abuse from a minority of members” as fans returned to grounds.
He explained: “Unfortunately, as we progressively reopened our grounds to members, some of our administration staff and stewards were subjected to abuse from a minority of members, who were upset that their usual access for parking, seating and dogs was not possible.
"Kent Cricket staff should be able to come to work without fear of being shouted out, threatened or subjected to derogatory remarks.
“We’d like to remind all members and supporters that the club will not tolerate such behaviour which has a marked effect on our staff.
“Where such behaviour is observed, we reserve the right to withdraw membership of the club.”
Storey also revealed Kent are planning to re-open the Les Ames Stand and the Chiesman Pavilion (for members only), while the Cornwallis Carvery is set to make a return for County Championship matches next summer.
He continued: “It is envisaged that we can return to pre-pandemic levels for parking, where our car parking pass scheme will continue to operate.
“2021 ground car parking pass holders are able to renew their ground car parking pass until Monday, January 31. Any passes not renewed after this date will be offered to members on the waiting list, subject to availability.”
Wishing fans a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year, Storey concluded: “While the current headlines around the new Omicron variant suggest that the pandemic is likely to continue into 2022, last summer, we demonstrated that it was possible for our outdoor summer sport of cricket to thrive.
"The safe completion of a full season of recreational and community cricket showed that cricket can play a key role in ensuring that life goes on even in a pandemic-impacted world.”