Warwickshire’s members are revolting. Not in a smelly sense, you understand, but in opposition to the inadequate facilities they believe they have been provided with in the new £32 million pavilion at Edgbaston.
Tony Cook, a long-standing Warwickshire member, tabled a motion for debate at the county’s annual meeting and criticised the treatment of members since the new pavilion opened.
Warwickshire were also accused of chasing the corporate pound at the expense of a membership that now numbers barely 5,000.
Cook spoke articulately and passionately and appeared to have the support of the vast majority of those in the audience when he criticised the quality of food at Edgbaston, the surly attitude of staff and the inadequate members’ area in the new pavilion.
Warwickshire have contracted out an increasing amount of work in recent years – catering, stewarding and ticketing – presumably for financial reasons.
But what they may have gained in pounds they are in danger of losing in good will with an increased number of staff who appear unfamiliar with the ground, unhappy in their work and who have little or no empathy with the requirements of a members’ cricket club.
“We don’t have shareholders, we are a not a business but we are a county cricket club and the members are the owners,” said Cook.
Warwickshire’s former dining and bar area in the Tom Dollery Suite, which was demolished two winters ago, was considered among the best members’ facilities in the country.
The new facilities in the pavilion that was opened last August are smaller and cramped and have the ambience of a motorway service station.
Space is at a premium even on a routine County Championship day, impossible to find at Twenty20 or busier one-day matches, and this after members were asked to pay a premium for the privilege of using the Pavilion End facilities.
Warwickshire have tacitly accepted that Cook’s criticisms are valid and have promised to look into his complaints. Cook is not content to let matters rest and intends to continue lobbying for improvements to the facilities provided for members.