Payne confirmed as County chief executive at ‘sobering’ AGM

Northamptonshire chief executive Ray Payne
Northamptonshire chief executive Ray Payne
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Ray Payne has been confirmed as Northants Cricket’s full-time chief executive after filling the post on an interim basis.

Payne took over the reins at Wantage Road following the sudden departure of David Smith last November.

The announcement was made last night by chairman Gavin Warren at the club’s AGM which featured discussion of Northamptonshire’s prospects both

on and off the field.

As expected, the club’s accounts show a hefty loss of £305,636 last year compared to a modest profit of £14,685 in 2013.

Board member Tim Robinson – who described the figures as “sobering” - told members that a similar deficit is likely for 2015 but outlined a five-year plan to improve the financial position – based on maximising non-match-day income from the County Ground’s upgraded facilities.

The directors’ report confirms that ‘a challenging year’ had been anticipated in 2014 with less money coming into the club from ECB following Graeme Swann’s unexpected retirement and the absence of Monty Panesar from the England set-up.

But it continues: ‘The planned increase in sponsorship and hospitality was not achieved and therefore failed to fill that gap.’

The club has also revealed that the well-supported concert by Sir Tom Jones at Wantage Road last July ‘contributed little financially’ to the coffers – and similar events will only be staged ‘if the financial outcome can be more assured.’

But Payne reported on plans for a ‘Jazz Club’ and a possible jazz festival as a way of attracting more people to the ground.

Warren, club president Lord Naseby and other leading officials met recently with the new ECB hierarchy including CEO Tom Harrison – who spent two years on the County staff in the 1990s – and chairman Colin Graves.

“They were very supportive and it was apparent that we’re not the only club facing financial challenges,” said Warren.

“We asked them if they see a future with 18 first-class counties and a future for Northamptonshire – and they answered yes and yes.

“That said, there’s no doubt that cricket in this country is set for radical change.”

Simon Ingram – a real estate partner in EMW Law who was involved in the development of Stadium:mk in Milton Keynes– was elected to join the board of directors.

Former County opener Nigel Felton, vice-chairman Ian Peck and Nick Wilson all retained their places.