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Worcestershire CCC: Ashley Giles says 'maybe timing is right' for Pears to leave New Road

Worcestershire chief executive Ashley Giles says that "maybe the timing is right" for the Pears to leave their iconic New Road home following a winter of severe flooding.

The county had already moved their first two scheduled home games to Kidderminster, 16 miles away.

But Giles fears the effect of further weather-related damage from flooding.

"I don't think we can carry on like this. It's costing us a lot of money," Giles told BBC Hereford & Worcester.

"We're going to lose virtually two months of a six-month season. The ground is here to stage cricket, to be a venue for entertainment and hospitality. But conditions are seemingly getting worse."

New Road has staged Championship cricket since 1899, a run only halted by the summer flood of 2007.

But worsening weather in the winters that have followed has exacerbated the process of looking elsewhere - and their long-standing second home at Chester Road, Kidderminster has only ever been considered a short-term fix.

Club officials faced the Worcestershire members this week and the mood is now one of acceptance that they will have to move sooner rather than later.

"I'm not sure how much longer this will continue if we keep having to put up with this," said Giles.

"As chief executive here, I have to consider all options - and one of those options has to be looking if we move, where do we move, and how do we move?

"We have a good relationship with both the local councils, city and county.

"And would we be building a version of New Road somewhere else? Or could we look at outside investment and build something that could have world class facilities.

"That would take a lot of investment. But sport - and cricket - is interesting to investors right now, so maybe the timing is right to look at those sort of things."

Pears still planning for 24 May return

Promoted Worcestershire are gearing up for their record seventh return to the top flight of the County Championship - and were able to publicly unveil their latest signing, former West Indies captain Jason Holder at Wednesday's pre-season photocall.

However, Holder will not get a chance to play at New Road before his five-game stint ends, as the Pears' third home match of the season, against Nottinghamshire, is not until 24 May.

"The weather over the next couple of weeks is important, but we are still sticking to the plan of a 24 May return," Giles added.

"But any extension of the timeline on a return to New Road would be pretty devastating.

"We've now suffered seven full floods this winter at New Road, the last of them over the Easter weekend, which is very late.

"The water has now receded and we're yet to assess quite how much damage has been done but first impressions are positive.

"It seems that the work done on the square has been retained and there is still good grass. But, if we push back any further we get into the T20.

"It would be very damaging if we had to move T20 games away from New Road. Kidderminster has been a very good partner to us and we will play two our first two home Championship games there but could they cope with a T20 game? I don't know. We need to explore these things."

Ashley Giles was talking to BBC Hereford & Worcester sports editor Trevor Owens.

Worcestershire's season opening schedule

5-8 April: Warwickshire (Edgbaston)

12-15 April: Nottinghamshire (Trent Bridge)

19-22 April: Durham (Kidderminster)

26-29 April: Somerset (Kidderminster)

10-13 May: Kent (Canterbury)

17-20 May: Surrey (The Oval)

24-27 May: Nottinghamshire (New Road)

30 May - First T20 game v Yorkshire (Headingley)

31 May - First T20 home game v Lancashire (New Road)

The full extent of the flooding issue

New Road has suffered seven complete floods this winter
New Road has suffered seven complete floods this winter [PA Media]