The ECB has bowed to increasing pressure and agreed to an external review of the process leading to the payment of 2.5m to Glamorgan. Barely 48 hours after dismissing calls for such an inquiry at a meeting of the county chairmen, the ECB has performed a U-turn which suggests chaos at the heart of the organisation.
While an ECB press release suggests the U-turn is the result of “time to reflect” on the request formally made by Somerset and Surrey on Monday, it may not be coincidental that the ECB’s Audit, Risk and Governance committee met on Wednesday in order to sign off the accounts. With such a substantial and extraordinary payment having been made to Glamorgan – and the suggestion that further payments have been promised elsewhere – it is entirely possible the committee required more details before the accounts could be signed off.
“Following the ECB’s meeting with the chairmen of the first-class counties and MCC on Monday we have taken time to reflect on this, as a Board,” Colin Graves, the ECB chairman, said in a statement. “The Board agree that it will be valuable to have an external review into the process around the payment.
“I recognise there have been questions raised and, whilst answers have been provided, we are determined that the process is fully reviewed.”
It was revealed several weeks ago by the Times that Glamorgan had received the payment in return for not applying to host a Test in the major match allocation that runs until the end of the 2024 season. While the ECB executive insists such payments were agreed, in principle, at a board teleconference in September 2016, the likes of Andy Nash and Richard Thompson, who have resigned from the board in recent days in protest at what they see as a lack of transparency behind such decisions, believe they required more detailed consideration. Both men claim such a payment amounts to favouring one county over others and conflict with the ECB’s constitution.
The ECB has not yet published the terms of reference for the review. But while it is understood the county chairmen requested an entirely independent inquiry led by a respected QC, the ECB has appointed Good Governance Institute (GGI) and asked them to look only at “the process leading to the recent payment to Glamorgan”. As GGI were employed by the ECB in a consultancy capacity as recently as the end of last year – they compiled a report entitled “Governance Improvement Programme” – one county has already raised questions over their independence and, as a result, their suitability for the task.
There is also concern over the breadth of the review. With several Test-hosting grounds believed to have budgeted for similar compensation payments – the suggested figure was 500,000 for every year they do not host a Test – some of the other counties want to know how they were led to believe such payments were likely. The ECB has agreed to take another look at the policy, but it is currently unclear whether it forms part of the GGI review.
“We need to know what other payments have been promised over the last few months,” one county chief executive told ESPNcricinfo. “But this review does represent encouraging progress.”