Yorkshire County Cricket Club NED’s: My Thoughts

At the Yorkshire County Cricket Club AGM on May 28th members will be asked to vote on a number of new Independent NED appointments, a few ‘housekeeping tasks’ but not (yet) on the nomination of members for the Board, a role that I will not be putting myself forward for despite a pleasing level of support, for a number of reasons.

I have no issues with any the proposed Independent NED’s:

  • Lucy Amos (social media): Head, Social Media (UK & Europe, the Middle East & Africa), the Walt Disney Company
  • Leslie Ferrar CVO (finance – proposed Head of Audit & Risk Committee): Former Treasurer to TRH The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall; The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Henry, The Royal Household
  • Nolan Hough (estates/venue management): Commercial Director (Venue), Manchester United Football Club
  • Yaseen Mohammed (community & recreational cricket): Director, Y Property, Chair of Park Avenue Bradford, Trustee of Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, member of Yorkshire Cricket Club
  • Kavita Singh (legal): Internal General Counsel & Chief International Legal Officer, DaVita, member of Yorkshire Cricket Club
  • Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson (elite sport – proposed Board Safeguarding Lead): Independent Crossbench Peer House of Lords, champion wheelchair racer (11 Paralympic gold medals), author of 2017 report to HM Government on Duty of Care in Sport.

Impressive individually and collectively and I am sure they will bring a lot of experience and contribute to the corporate governance of the club well. How much they actually know about cricket, the club and the members time will tell.

Six new NED’s at one time is a lot for an organisation to absorb and this is the first issue I have with the proposed process for Members’ nominations for the Board: it is too soon.

Actually the timing is a recurring concern of mine. I think the club would be best served concentrating on three things for the next 2 to 3 years:

  1. The Playing Side
  2. Integrating the new NED’s
  3. Developing the Membership

It is point 3 that I am most concerned about. To date, for understandable reasons, nothing appears to have been done to expand the membership. The offering to members remains the same – uninspiring. The communication from the Members’ Committee is non existent. I have literally never received anything from them (and is one of the reasons I am not supporting the re-election at the AGM). The membership remains divided (being polite) and will remain so until the entrenched position of many is diluted by new members, and until such time the atmosphere in many parts of the ground remains unpleasant and the failure to accept the historic issues remains.

Personally I would prefer to see the membership developed before appointing members to the Board as until you have new blood amongst the members you are not going to get new ideas.

Another significant issue I have is with the actual process. A lot is made of the fact that the Club are allowing members to appoint two members to the Board, but are they? The process is flawed by the very fact that a) a member requires 20 members to support their nomination – favours the old members over new members (see above point) and b) the nominees are interviewed and approved by the club before the members are asked to confirm. A truly open process would be that any member could stand and the members, and only the members, voted and their decision was final.

Yes, I understand that would probably result is someone from the Graves/Smith camp being elected – especially if done now – but in 3 years time, with a broader membership base, with more stability in the club from the new NED’s?

And besides, who thinks that a Graves/Smith ally – if not say Graves – will be appointed now? I can’t shake the thought away that until the situation with the Graves Trust is removed there will always be a hint of conflict around.

Whist I am at in, my view has always been and remains that 2 members for the Members’ is not enough to represent the community the club claims to represent. I have always advocated three.

So why am I not nominating myself?

I think the role is at risk of being lost, deemed a failure, short lived because it is being implemented too soon, and with a flawed process. I think the issues the club needs resolving regards the membership will not be addressed by a couple of members attending a meeting 10 to 12 times a year, there needs to be an investment in skilled resources to think creatively about how to take the membership forward. That I would be keen on. I still feel I have too much energy and drive to ‘only’ sit on a Board. I have little desire to drive up and down to Yorkshire to sit in a meeting and make suggestions only for the club not to have the resource to implement them.

As with most things in cricket, timing is vital and I think the club has got their timing (and priorities) wrong with this.

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