WORCESTER Hockey Club (WHC) has targeted raising £300,000 to fund its share in a proposed £2.9million hockey facility.

Members were told at Wednesday’s extraordinary general meeting (EGM) that the club and joint-venture partners Royal Grammar School (RGS) Worcester planned to contribute £400,000 each to the construction of the project.

Worcester City Council has agreed to facilitate a £2.1million loan to cover the rest of the cost of two international-standard hockey pitches with a modular building in between on the Old Porcelain Ground, Droitwich Road.

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Vice-chair Andy Waters said the club had 25 per cent in place with little concerns about finding the rest by the target completion date of September 2020.

Waters, WHC chairman George Chakko-George, RGS bursar Ian Roberts and Richard Savory of project management consultants Raise Partnership fielded questions from club members for almost an hour.

Most were directed towards the club’s top brass surrounding the financial implications but all present were satisfied enough to vote unanimously to progress with the project.

READ MORE | Worcester Hockey Club members unanimously support proceeding with £2.9million project


Waters confirmed WHC would be seeking a switch to Community Amateur Sports Club status “to give us the entity we need to have to take charitable donations and Gift Aid”.

Waters and Roberts indicated the joint venture would “probably” be a limited company with Waters stating it would be a for-profit organisation “because it will be renting out or leasing the facility in the future”.

“There will be a 50-50 contribution and it will be set up with a 50-50 shareholding. Both parties will pay their share into the JV,” said Waters.

He added that the facility would be ran “separate of both but with the commitment to pay”.

“We are aiming to put in whatever is required through this 15-month process. The target is to get the facility in place by autumn 2020,” said Waters.

“The equity we want to put in at the start maxes out at £400,000, we have 25 per cent of that put aside anyway.

“We have support from the bank if we require it. We don’t want to take on any more debt, we would prefer to raise £300,000 which I think is eminently achievable with the various routes we have.

“We haven’t started to look at that yet but it is not a lot of money to raise in a 15-month period to end up with facility worth x-million 30 years from now, dependent on what goes on in the meantime."

Asked whether it would be the hockey club or joint venture taking on any required borrowing, Waters replied: “We are in the middle of that at the moment.”

Roberts added: “I think that is a discussion for the JV to have once it is set up. It is early days to answer that. The JV will have to look at that collectively."

Speaking after the meeting on whether the equity stake would be split 50-50, Waters replied: “We don’t know until we get there. The intention is for the equity stake to be shared equally.

On whether that could affect the balance of ownership in the joint venture, Waters said: “It has always been agreed that whatever way we go, it will be 50-50.”

During the meeting Roberts said that “the whole premise of this is that it is 50-50, it is a partnership”.

Waters said the club had “yet to approach any national bodies” regarding funding but that “it would be nice to be self-sufficient”.

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The biggest question mark is over how much the joint venture will receive from its main source of income, pitch hire. 

In projections attached to Worcester City Council’s report the only set of figures to show a profit was created by higher hourly rates for use of the facility, driving up annual contributions for WHC and RGS,

Other estimates based on smaller hourly rates closer to those WHC are currently talking about estimated five-figure shortfalls with costs in excess of £200,000 per year.

"The spreadsheet on the Worcester City Council website was a stress-busting exercise from May 2017," said Waters.

"This was part of the process we went through to see whether we could make a viable venture and the middle ground was that we were within £30,000 of break even.

"There were three things we then had to look at to make it a profitable venture, the first was to reduce the bill costs which has been done.

"We then had to look at how much prime capital went in to enhance the viability of the project which has doubled from the £400,000 reported on the WCC site to the publicised figure of £800,000 agreed between the partners.

"Thirdly we had to look at securing more income into the facility to break even which is where the university usage comes in.

"Those three stress factors have taken shape and there is still work ongoing to improve the situation further.

"The current workings show a profitable venture two years and a month further on from those on the city council website."

Waters said the new figures "are still being worked on" but that WHC would be spending "£50,000 or just over on that model for pitch hire". 

Worcester News has invited WHC to provide up-to-date projections.

At the meeting, members were told by Waters that external hire had not been factored into the business plan but he was later unable to clarify whether that was the case.

“It is a balancing act, it is the same with every business,” he said.

“You charge the market rate without pricing yourself out of that market to make sure you utilise income potential.

“It is not black and white, the projections just give the best and worst-case scenarios. The probability is you pitch somewhere in the middle and have extra usage by other people.

“By the time the facility gets built the figures will be two years out of sync with what the market rates are.

“With the commitment the university is showing, that would bring in a very good proportion of (the other pay) number.

“The hockey club in its business plan would have calculated a higher usage than what we currently have because we are dictated to about the number of slots we can get on available pitches.

“People pay match fees that more than cover the cost of hiring pitches anyway so any increased expenditure would be covered by that.

“One of our coaches runs summer camps and doesn’t use local facilities, we have to hire elsewhere so that will be brought in too. It increases our outgoings but brings in money as well.”

At the meeting, Waters had said: “Our £40,000 (per year) that we are currently paying – and it might cost a little bit more – would go into the joint venture.

“It is not like we would not be paying out that money anyway. At the end of the 30-year rental period we will end up with a 50 per cent share in a facility that is all costed in terms of the relaying of pitches and everything else.

“That is robustly supported by the amount of use the club currently has. It is not a massive amount more than we are currently paying out.”

In the meeting, Roberts said: “The council gave it the green light, they are not going to do that without putting it through complete due diligence and some rigour.

“I can assure you we (RGS) would not commit to it without doing exactly the same.”

Concerns were raised by members over servicing the £2.1million loan and how much the interest would be.

Worcester City Council confirmed the parties set to form the joint venture have proposed an annuity-style deal in which the interest comes down with the amount owed.

The overall repayment figure would be calculated at the start of the loan and then divided into 30 yearly payments.

That would prevent the joint venture from having three per cent of the £2.1million added to the bill every year.

Such a deal must be sanctioned by the council but should that get the green light, the annual cost should be around £106,000.

Councillors play no part in that decision, deferring it to the relevant council officer.

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There is set to be eight changing rooms and a modest “meet-and-greet-style” area but no clubhouse for refreshments. The club plans to use Ravenmeadow Golf Club for any hospitality.

“The design is all modular. You can add modules as and when funds become available to extend it all the way down the centre of the pitches,” said Waters.

“If we want to go for a clubhouse at the start it would bolt on £600-800,000 which takes it to a different level.”


Savory said: “I think the rigour in the cost plan has been extreme. I haven’t just stopped at the capital cost but also looked at the revenue cost of running the various facilities.

“I am very satisfied the cost estimates are robust.”

He admitted the timescale “is very tight, there is no doubt about that but it is possible" and that "a lot will depend on how conversations with the local planning authority go” which will take place “in the autumn hopefully”.

“I have not given up on September 2020 yet but it is also too early to guarantee it. I haven’t thrown in the towel,” he added, anticipating no additional costs if the project is delayed.


Roberts addressed speculation from the floor that some parents of RGS pupils were not happy about the proposals.

“I would be shocked if I was here without the governors’ approval,” he said.

“I wouldn’t listen to rumour, the RGS community is really excited, I think it is a fantastic opportunity.

“I can assure you the board of governors is itching to get going.

“We now need to look at that business case and make sure it actually stands up.

“Now we have the green light we can start interacting with contractors and get a real feel that those costs are spot on.

“The school is well and truly behind this initiative.”