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Kent Cricket chief executive Jamie Clifford says the county would love to return to Maidstone but that there are too many hurdles at the moment

By Mark Stokes

Jamie Clifford says Kent Cricket Club would love to resume playing at Maidstone but it is simply not feasible at the moment.

The club’s chief executive was responding to a question from the floor during Kent’s annual meeting at The Spitfire Ground, St Lawrence, on Monday night.

Mr Clifford revealed that Kent continue to work with the Mote Cricket Club about a return to the county town but there are two main sticking points - the playing surface and the pavilion and changing facilities.

Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford
Kent chief executive Jamie Clifford

Maidstone last staged first-class cricket in 2005 and are currently looking for a new head groundsman.

Mr Clifford told the meeting: “We always enjoyed going to the Mote and if the Mote provided the perfect solution today I think we’d still be going to The Mote.

“It’s a ground with great access, it’s in the centre of the county and it has good car parking, but there are areas in their operation that currently are not to a standard that you’d expect for First Class cricket and they are essentially two things.

“The first is the quality of the playing surface and we’ve worked with ECB pitches' advisor to help The Mote try to improve the playing surface. They’ve still got more work to do on that front.

“The second is the pavilion and therefore the changing facilities and accommodation for the players which are simply not to a standard expected for First Class cricket.

“Those things said we continue to work with The Mote and we continue to try and encourage them but at the end of the day it’s their club.

“They have to do the things to make it happen not us. All the way along we’ve been utterly consistent whether the chairman has been asked publicly or any of us, we’d love to go back toThe Mote but at the moment there are too many hurdles.”

The Mote ground, Maidstone
The Mote ground, Maidstone

Mr Clifford revealed at the meeting that the club would continue to campaign against any restructure of domestic cricket which would involve a franchise competition.

He also explained that work had started on the McCarthy and Stone development at the Spitfire Ground after planning permission was granted.

Mr Clifford added: “Early stages of the work are underway but please be reassured there are contractual obligations that McCarthy & Stone have with regards to what they can do on matchdays which prevents them doing any major, large or noisy works.”

The meeting heard that a significant increase in attendances - which were the highest since 2009 - had helped Kent post a sixth consecutive year of improvement in their core financial results.

The club’s reported an EBITDA - earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation - of nearly £346,000 which contrasted with a figure of minus £641,000 in 2009, a transformation of nearly £1million in six years.

Tribute was also paid to former sales and marketing director Pat Mellsop, who returned to New Zealand after five years with the club, during which helped net commercial income grow by more than £540,000 - a six-fold increase.

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