After 23 years at the helm, the businessman who helped save the club from ruin will step down.
Bransgrove, who owns over 60% of the shares of the club
Rod Bransgrove, the man who saved Hampshire cricket, has announced that he will step down as chairman of the county at the conclusion of the season after a 23-year tenure.
Bransgrove, 72, saved Hampshire from insolvency in 2000, completed the club’s relocation from its 116-year home at Northlands Road to the Ageas Bowl, and has presided over a prosperous era on the south coast. The £15 million he has spent on the county is more than any other individual has spent on the game in English cricket history.
Bransgrove, who owns over 60% of the shares of the club, will be replaced by Nick Pike. Pike has been deputy chairman since 2021, having been an original investor in Rose Bowl plc in 2001. He was managing director of Hampshire Cricket before acting as non-executive director and vice president.
Bransgrove made the announcement to members ahead of the LV=Insurance County Championship fixture with Essex in the atrium of the pavilion that bears his name.
“I will resign as chairman of Hampshire Cricket at the end of the year,” he announced. “There are several reasons for this, one of which is that I am getting older.” I also promised you four things when we started this adventure 23 years ago.
“First and foremost, we would save Hampshire Cricket from insolvency, and the fact that we are all here proves it.” Second, we would build a team capable of competing with the best in all competitions, and we are currently one of the teams that no one wants to play on.
“The third key point was that we would build a stadium capable of hosting the world’s best international and Test match cricket, and the recent announcement is the final validation of that long and sometimes difficult journey.”
“The other was to build a business around Hampshire cricket to ensure that the county is never threatened with insolvency again.” We’re well on our way, and the business surrounding the location is becoming quite lucrative.”
The announcement comes as Ivo Tennant’s biography Back from the Brink: How Rod Bransgrove Saved Hampshire from Extinction is released.
England veteran Ian Botham remarked in the book’s foreword, “If you look around the county clubs in England, there is one man who stands out.” He did not play professionally, but he has supported the game through his own hard work as a businessman and as a cricket fan, rescuing Hampshire and developing a magnificent international site on the south coast.
“Without Rod, there would have been no Rose Bowl, no international matches on the south coast, and Hampshire County Cricket Club would have been homeless and destitute.”
Bransgrove’s decision to resign comes after achieving his dream of hosting an Ashes Test match, with the ground set to host a match in the 2027 series. It will be the eighth Test match played on the ground, following three behind closed doors during the COVID epidemic and the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in 2021.
The Ageas Bowl, which will get a new title sponsor at the end of this season, will also host India in 2029, a yet-to-be-determined Test in 2030, and a Women’s Ashes Test in 2031, in addition to regular white-ball contests over the next eight years.
Off-the-field, Bransgrove oversaw the construction and development of the Ageas Bowl, which presently contains the Hilton hotel and the Boundary Lakes Golf Course, with ideas for additional extensions currently being discussed with Eastleigh Borough Council.
Bransgrove, who transformed the county from a members club to the first county cricket PLC upon his arrival, has contemplated selling the club in recent years, turning down a large offer earlier this year.
“A very successful businessman approached us with an offer to take over all the company’s debt and pay some tens of millions in cash to acquire the entire business, but the attraction was not the money going into my pocket,” Bransgrove wrote in Back from the Brink. The bid was premised on the assumption that he would immediately infuse another £50 million following the purchase to drive Hampshire forward.
The club is currently worth more than £100 million and is in debt to the tune of £60 million.
Hampshire had a record eleven appearances at Vitality Blast Finals Days, which culminated in three championships, and the Ageas Bowl hosted the first T20 match in 2003.
Bransgrove’s rule has also witnessed four further white-ball victories and a County Championship Division Two title, albeit without ending a 50-year wait for a Championship despite numerous near-misses. Hampshire had only won eight awards in the preceding 137 years before Bransgrove arrived.
He also helped bring women’s cricket to the Ageas Bowl and helped the Southern Vipers become the most successful team in the country. In their eight-year history, the team has won a Kia Super League, two Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophies, and two Charlotte Edwards Cups.
“Thank you for your incredible support over the past 23 years,” Bransgrove continued. It’s incredible because cricket has changed so much in that period, and nowhere more so than at the Ageas Bowl.”
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