Worcestershire CCC CEO Tom Scott, who celebrates 12 months in the role this month, has revealed the club's ambition to become debt free by 2020 so it can pursue two major goals.
Scott hopes the County will be in a financial position in three years time to:
1) Invest in the cricket side of the club on a far greater scale
2) Be able to press ahead with Phase Three of the ground development on the New Road side of the ground.
Fifty-eight-year-old Scott admits that replacing David Leatherdale in the CEO post, initially on an interim basis and then full-time, has presented a steep learning curve.
He feels it is has to be a priority to maximise the number of events staged at New Road and to have buildings such as The View and Graeme Hick Pavilion bulging to capacity with functions on a 365 days a year basis in order to make New Road a major events venue in Worcestershire.
Scott also believes that staging a regular stream of top notch outdoor events – such as the Olly Murs concert in June – is also of paramount importance, with other similar projects being explored for this summer.
But Worcester-born Scott also believes that the club is "moving in the right direction on the pitch and commercially"
Here he looks back at his first year at the helm, and outlines his plans for the future, in a Question and Answer session with the Worcestershire CCC website.
Question: You have been CEO for 12 months now, how do you look back on the first year in general terms?
Tom Scott: "The first few months presented a learning curve, as I familiarised myself with income streams and what a professional sports club should look like as a financially sustainable business.
"As time has gone on, I've got used to the workings of the club, both from a cricket and commercial perspective and I feel we are moving in the right direction on both.
"I think the onus is on me to ensure the business element of the club is sound and that we try our hardest to make a profit, which will reflect the clubs development.
"Our main objective, in addition to first-class Cricket, is to produce top quality Events and Commercial Opportunities that will enable Worcestershire businesses to engage with us with regard to their requirements.
"In addition to increased revenue, this will allow the people of our County to appreciate what an amazing and iconic venue we have at New Road.
"We must ensure that local businesses and the people of Worcestershire instinctively think of New Road when considering a function rather than any other location in the County."
Question: You would have seen the club make big strides forward in its 365 days a year business strategy?
Tom Scott: "The need to become a 365 day business was mentioned by my predecessor David Leatherdale – and nothing has changed.
"We need to fill the venues within the ground throughout the year. We must not forget that from October 1 to the end of March we become an events led business.
"During the summer, it is very much all hands on deck for cricket and the associated concert and cinema events that come with sunshine and lovely weather. We plan to host other events, which will provide a wider range of activities rather than just one concert a year.
"A big consideration has been how to maximise our iconic venue. It is walking distance from the city centre with a hotel (Premier Inn) next door. We also have ample on-site parking, providing every opportunity to make New Road a regular city centre venue during the summer months
"With The View and the Graeme Hick Pavilion we have good sized venues to host off-site business meetings, birthday parties, weddings….the club can basically cater for anything."
Question: Do you feel there is still a lot more potential to be tapped into.
Tom Scott: "I think historically we got to a point where the club had become reactive rather than pro-active and, as such, we did not capitalise on the available opportunities.
"We are now actively engaged speaking to local businesses and people around the County about doing business with the club by staging events here. We are not running at capacity so one of our major objectives for 2017 is to fill all the space available.
"We know what the capacity for events is and the team are targeted with filling as much of it as possible. This has not necessarily been the case in the past.
"Although we have not operated at full capacity we have seen a good year. Other venues such as Worcester Rugby club offer similar facilities so we need to be competitive on price and the whole customer experience, including catering and service”
Question: Do you think the man in the street now realises it is more than just a cricket club?
Tom Scott: "The people of Worcestershire see things such as the Olly Murs concert – of which there will be more – and we will continue to stage Premier League artists at the ground in the future.
"We will not be restricting ourselves to one concert per summer and already we are looking at other events this year to complement the Olly Murs concert."
Question: You came in initially on an interim basis and took it on eventually full-time. Is that because you sensed the club could really take off.
Tom Scott: "I decided, with the Board, that working together on a full-time basis would provide stability to the business and help develop a three to five year plan. The current position is promising but patience is required.
"I see the full benefit of the changes materialising in 2018/19, once the cost of change has decreased. We all want to see the club succeed on both Cricket and commercial fronts and these often go hand in hand.
"We are developing a strong commercial team to build foundations that support the Club's long term survival. This means a 365 days a year business, with local businesses using it as an option for functions, complemented by first class catering at the right price.
"We are based alongside the river, there is no reason why the club, particularly during the summer months, shouldn't be operating at a level comparable to any other business in the city. I don't think that has historically been the case.
"We have 150 years of history and to me it feels like the Club has always been here.
"I think within the Club there was an element of believing that bookings would come to us, rather than us go looking for it.
"As such, a big push for 2017 will be marketing our iconic location and to encourage the people and businesses of Worcestershire to support First Class Cricket. After all, there are only 18 of us in the country."
Question: Is it a bigger challenge than when you came into the job 12 months ago?
Tom Scott: "It is a much bigger challenge than I thought it would be. There have been some internal changes during the year in an effort to bring the Club up to date.
"We set an ambitious goal of financially standing on our own two feet by 2020 by becoming debt free. With those foundations in place we will see more investment in cricket and hopefully develop the New Road stand (Phase Three).
"Initially, I would have liked New Road to have been completed by 2020 (Phase Three) and that remains our ultimate goal. However, we need complete financial stability by then in order to pursue it.
"I will not engage with anyone until I'm certain the club is in a secure position before proceeding with a project of that size.
"Phase Three is a sizeable development that everyone at the club feels is the way forward. However, our financial position needs to be rock solid before commencing this project and as such I am very guarded about putting us into further debt in order to do that.
"Our focus will be to continue to trade positively until such time we feel the finances will hold up to a project of that magnitude.
"The accounts show the level of debt the club has. We must focus on that debt before we go ahead with things like Phase Three.
"Worcestershire CCC is a well run cricket club; we have new buildings with the Graeme Hick and The View and some excellent work has been done in the past to make those buildings a reality.
"We are now in a period of consolidation and need to focus on reducing the debt through commercial ventures and sell out crowds. It is not until that debt is under control, that we can begin to think about Phase Three."
Question: Finally, as a successful businessman yourself, what drives you on at 58 to do this role?
Tom Scott: "My love of this cricket club, my life long support of it and my love for cricket in general.
"The club does present a challenge in both cricketing and financial terms and I feel challenged. I hope to demonstrate during my time at the club that that it can become genuinely profitable.
"It is important to me the Club becomes financially sustainable and there will be no better feeling than reaching a point when we are debt free, or at least in control of our debt position.
"As I have said before, we are blessed with an iconic location and a county of cricket lovers who not only respect the history but want to see a first class county at New Road for many years to come. This is what makes me want to carry on.
"Delivering a venue for sport and events over 365 days is a major challenge. I feel we have a responsibility to the members and the people of Worcestershire to provide entertainment. We have a dynamic team both on and off the pitch and I predict success for the future on both fronts.”