HARKER, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, DURHAM COUNTY CRICKET CLUB
for the Riverside is that it becomes an international cricketing
and conference centre providing the very best in cricket entertainment
and conference facilities."
They are high
hopes but fact is that David Harker, chief executive of Durham County
Cricket Club, and his team are a long way down the road to achieving
such an ambitious vision.
county status, staged its first One-Day International and its first
England One-Day match, one could have forgiven Durham CCC had it
been tempted to sit back and rest on its laurels.
Much as these
achievements were satisfying, however, and as much as they helped
to raise the profile of Durham CCC, they were ultimately smaller
parts of a much bigger picture.
For David, that
picture involved the Riverside playing a greater role in regional
life, not just in a sporting sense but also in a cultural and educational
sense, providing a place for learning, a place where organisations
can hold meetings and a venue where people can mix business with
at Durham CCC in 1991 - he initially worked there on secondment
from Price Waterhouse accountants - David was initially financial
controller for the club, before becoming director of finance and
finally chief executive, a role he took up last year when Mike Candlish
It has been
an interesting journey for both him and the club. He says: "My
career here has been a natural progression; the club has grown quite
rapidly at times and each stage of that growth has brought with
it new challenges."
that he wasn't a massive cricket fan when he first arrived. What
he did bring with him, however, was some hard-nosed business acumen
- from an early stage he has seen the massive potential of the ground.
Hence while some cricket clubs might be happy to be reliant upon
the ECB distribution of funds for a large majority of their income,
David has other plans. "Our philosophy has always been to try
and become self-sufficient and financially independent. The way
I see it, if you are not playing the game, you should be working
on the commercial side of the business to generate the funds that
support cricket activity."
In terms of
its development as a place for sporting, business and cultural activity,
Durham CCC is currently in Phase Three. David says: "This is
where the club begins to come to maturity, playing a major role
not just in terms of cricket but in terms of regional life and its
contribution to the North East on a sporting, business and cultural
the main strands to achieving such an aim. The first is the ongoing
development of the Riverside, which he is in no doubt, is a 'Prize
Asset'. To this end there are plans for an indoor cricket school
and the ground has also recently been awarded an ECB license to
become a national cricket academy.
Linked to this
are exciting plans to build an education and media centre. "We
have already dipped out toe in the water here having already had
school children visiting the ground and having lessons here - we
are the only first class cricket ground in the UK to have been granted
100% funding from the DFEE for this," says David.
He adds: "Our
experiences in this area so far have really opened our eyes to our
potential to make a real contribution to the region on an educational
level. It is also a chance to attract children to the Riverside
and expose them to the game from an early age."
Looking a little
further into the future, there are plans to extend the ground capacity
from its current permanent capacity of 5,000 to 10,000. Such a move
would appear to make common sense given that the ground can confidently
expect to see international cricket on an annual basis. It would
require outside funding but if successful it would, as far as David
and his team are concerned, make the Riverside the best cricket
ground in the country.
With such a
broad range of plans in the pipeline, it's often easy to forget
that the single thing bringing them all together, the connective
tissue, is the game of cricket.
He may not have been a big cricket fan when he arrived at the club
but one can sense the excitement in David's voice when he talks
about the future plans of the ground on the cricketing front.
out as a relatively weak outfit, the Durham county cricket team
has now become a force to be reckoned with in the game; as the ground
they play at has grown and flourished, so the team has gone on to
surpass many of its initial expectations.
like to see this trend continue and believes the Riverside can provide
the ideal setting for a leading County Championship club. He says:
"We want the Riverside to be the very best that sport has to
offer. The people of our region want to see cricket internationals,
especially now they have had a taste of it. We want to become an
integral part of that international circuit, helping to raise the
profile of the game amongst young and old within the local community."