OFFICIALS of Dorset are weighing up the possibility of staging home matches outside the county for the first time in the club’s 119-year history.

Dorset are looking for an alternative venue as the pavilion and changing rooms at Dean Park – their current headquarters – may not be available next season.

Park School, which last year took a license for use of the site and facilities, is in the process of applying for planning consent for change of use at the venue.

As a result, Dorset are preparing for their final three-day game of the season against Berkshire, which starts on Sunday, to be the last Minor Counties Championship match staged at Dean Park.

Former captain and current Dorset CCC committee member Sean Walbridge confirmed club officials had already visited prospective new venues – with one in Hampshire and another in Somerset.

Bashley in the New Forest and North Perrott in Crewkerne are both under consideration together with grounds at Chapel Gate in Bournemouth, Sherborne School, Weymouth and Dorchester.

It is understood the proposed changes, which have not yet been finalised by Park School, will not affect recreational, age-group or schools cricket being played at Dean Park.

Walbridge, who now acts as Dorset team coordinator, told the Daily Echo: “Our understanding is that the pavilion will not be available to us next year and, therefore, we won’t be able to use the ground to stage Minor Counties matches. Our final game of the season is probably going to be the last one there.”

Dean Park, which has hosted 343 first-class matches and was used by Hampshire until 1992, is one of 17 grounds used by Dorset since the club was founded in 1896.

Park School owner Murray Smith said he hoped Dorset would continue to use the ground next year but added: “We don’t know what we are planning to do with the pavilion but, at some stage, it is going to have to start washing its face.

“It is a listed building and it needs to generate funds in order to protect itself for it to be taken forward into the future. Cricket alone doesn’t produce enough funds.”

The Dorset Cricket Board is considering applying for funding from Sport England to convert a building adjacent to the existing pavilion into a temporary one.

County development manager Keith Brewer said: “We feel it’s very important to continue to play at Dean Park because it gives everyone a great experience of the sport. We will explore every avenue as long as it is not financially crippling to the rest of cricket in the county.

“I know the school understands we are not massively funded but we do our best to work together. I would like to stress that the school has been very helpful.”