WORCESTERSHIRE County Cricket Club are optimistic of being able to fund the second phase of the New Road development without reliance on borrowing from the bank.

County chief executive David Leatherdale is hopeful the club’s bid for funding from the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) will be rubber-stamped at their board meeting on Thursday, while other revenue streams could finance the project in its entirety.

The total cost of the scheme will be as much as £2.7million and Leatherdale believes it can be funded by the potential LEP money alongside a lump sum from Premier Inns, who will be building a hotel on the site, a capital grant from the ECB and long-term sponsorship deals.

Leatherdale said: “We hope to get planning consent for the next stage of the New Road development on Thursday. Potentially, we could also get the green light from the LEP for some additional funding that we put in a bid for.

“While the money would have to be repaid, we’d hope that would be on an interest-free, long-term loan basis, which will help. We hope to be able to afford the whole project without any additional borrowing.“ Meanwhile, speaking at the club’s annual meeting last night, chairman Martyn Price wholeheartedly backed the club’s stance in relation to the recent Morgan Report into the structure of county cricket, which recommends that the County Championship should be reduced to 14 matches.

It also proposes a switch from 40 to 50-over cricket in line with international competitions.

Price said: “As a club, we are fully supportive of a 16-match format with two divisions of nine teams, as is the present situation. We feel the loss of integrity caused by a non-symmetrical system where you play some teams once and others twice is not an option and does not out-weigh the benefits created by reducing the number of days’ cricket the players play.

“I’ve also fought long and hard to preserve the 40-over format, however this is just a personal opinion but, commercially, the 40-over game wins hands down for this club. It is hoped things will become clearer after the ECB board meeting in March.”