Rod Bransgrove, the man who saved Hampshire cricket, has announced he will step down as the county’s chairman at the end of the season after 23 years.

Bransgrove, 72, rescued Hampshire from insolvency in 2000, completed the club’s move from its 116-year home at Northlands Road to the Ageas Bowl and has overseen a successful era on the south coast.

The £15million he has spent on the county is more than any other individual has invested in the game throughout the history of English cricket.

Bransgrove, who owns over 60 per cent 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 and 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 which bears his name.

He said: "I will be standing down as chairman of Hampshire Cricket at the end of the year. There are many reasons for this but for one I am getting older. Also when we started this journey 23 years ago I promised you four things.

“Firstly, that we would save Hampshire cricket from insolvency and the fact we are all here is proof of that.

“Secondly, that we would create a team that competes with the very best in all competitions, and we are now one of the teams nobody wants to play.

“The third important point was that we would create a stadium capable of housing the very best international and Test match cricket and the recent announcement is the final validation of that very long and sometimes very difficult journey.

“And the other was to create a business all around Hampshire cricket to make sure that the county is never again threatened with insolvency. We are a long way to doing that and the business around the site is becoming extremely valuable.”

The announcement coincides with the launch of Ivo Tennant’s biography Back from the Brink: How Rod Bransgrove Saved Hampshire from Extinction.

As part of the foreword for the book, England legend Ian Botham wrote: “If you look around the county clubs in England there is one man who stands out. He did not play the game professionally but he has supported it through his own hard work, as a businessman and as a cricket lover who has both rescued Hampshire and developed an outstanding international venue on the south coast.

“[Without Rod] there would be 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 step down comes after realising his ambition to host an Ashes Test match, with the ground scheduled to host a match in the 2027 series.

It will be the eighth Test match to be held on the ground – with the other matches including three behind closed doors during the Covid pandemic and the World Test Championship final between India and New Zealand in 2021.

The Ageas Bowl – which is set to receive a new title sponsor at the end of this season – will also host India in 2029, a yet-to-be-decided Test in 2030, and a Women’s Ashes Test

in 2031, along with regular white-ball matches in the next eight years.

Off-the-field Bransgrove has overseen the building and development of the Ageas Bowl – which now includes the Hilton hotel and Boundary Lakes Golf Course, with plans for more additions currently under consideration with Eastleigh Borough Council.

Having turned the county from a members club to the first county cricket PLC on his arrival, Bransgrove has considered selling the club in recent years – and turned down a substantial offer earlier this year.

Bransgrove said in Back from the Brink: “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 whole business but the attraction was not the money going into my pocket.

“The offer was based on the premise that he would immediately inject a further £50m after the purchase in order to move Hampshire forward.”

The club is currently valued at over £100m, and carries around £60m in debt.

On it, the Ageas Bowl hosted the first T20 match in 2003 and Hampshire has been synonymous with the format, with a record ten visits to Vitality Blast Finals Days which have borne three trophies.

Bransgrove’s reign has also seen four other white-ball triumphs and a Division Two title in the County Championship, albeit without ending a 50-year wait for a Championship despite plenty of near-misses. Before Bransgrove arrived, Hampshire had only managed eight trophies in their previous 137-years.

He also put his weight behind bringing women's cricket to the Ageas Bowl and helped turn Southern Vipers into the most successful side in the country. The team has won a Kia Super League, two Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophies, and two Charlotte Edwards Cups in their eight-year existence.

Bransgrove added: “Thank you for your amazing support over the 23 years. It has been astonishing as cricket has been through so much change in that time and no where more than at the Ageas Bowl.”