Pressure continues to mount on Colin Graves with an emergency chairmen’s meeting called for March 2 amid mounting disquiet within the county game.
Graves, the ECB chairman, is under fire after it emerged that ‘compensation’ payments could be paid to some Test-hosting clubs in the years they did not stage a match despite the policy having not been discussed at Board level.
That revelation resulted in the resignation from the ECB board of former Somerset chairman Andy Nash citing failures in the governance of the organisation.
It has also now resulted in a claim that Graves misled at least one county about discussions on the subject and a warning that such additional rewards for Test-match grounds will result in “dire effects” for the counties that do not host teams in the new T20 competition.
Bob Warren, the Sussex chairman, has raised particular concerns. In a letter written to Graves and seen by ESPNcricinfo, Warren complains about a lack of transparency from the ECB and appears to express serious doubts over Graves’ assurances.
“ECB policies are… going to produce eight super-counties with dire effects for the rest of us”
“You used the word transparency several times,” Warren wrote. “Unfortunately, at the moment, we don’t have this between the ECB and the counties.
“The ECB policies are, taking into account the way matches and money are being distributed, going to produce eight super-counties with dire effects for the rest of us.
“You mentioned at the start of our conversation that the policy of compensation was discussed and agreed by the ECB board around 15 months ago. I asked if you could send me a copy of the minutes which reflect this. You agreed with my request. I have now looked through those minutes and I can’t find any mention of this policy even being mentioned. Furthermore, a Board member told me he couldn’t recall a conversation about this, let along an agreement.
“The resignation of Andy Nash confirms that the issue was not discussed by the board prior to the policy being agreed with the TMGs [Test Match Grounds].”
While the ECB insist a payment made to Glamorgan was to help the club deal with creditors, other counties – some of whom have worked hard to ensure they are not burdened by debt – are now asking if they, too, can benefit from such an arrangement. The apparently contrasting treatment of Durham, who were stripped of their right to host Tests in return for an ECB bailout, is also intriguing.
Meanwhile at least three of the Test-hosting grounds seem bemused by the furore around the proposed payments as they were under the impression they had been common knowledge for many months.
Having already incurred the wrath of several counties who feel commitments made over the ownership of the new-team T20 have not been kept – in December, 10 of them signed a letter calling for assurances and clarification – Graves’ would now appear, for the first time, to be facing the possibility of a full scale revolt from a majority of the first-class counties.
Perhaps most serious of all is the legal advice taken by some counties and revealed by ESPNcricinfo on Wednesday which suggests the compensation payments might be considered “unlawful”. It also suggests the money could have to be repaid and any directors responsible for sanctioning them held personally responsible.