Glamorgan chairman Barry O’Brien is among four new non-executive directors named by the ECB. It is also understood that Derek Brewer, the former Nottinghamshire and MCC chief executive, has been co-opted to the board as a non-voting “stakeholder advisor” in the hope he will keep the ECB appraised of the concerns of the counties.
O’Brien, who will be obliged to step down from his club position to take up the post, has been a Glamorgan committee member since 2007 and chairman since 2011. Under his stewardship the club has reduced its debt significantly, largely thanks to several creditors agreeing to write off loans, and benefited from a controversial agreement whereby the ECB provide compensation payments to the club in return for them not bidding to host further Test cricket. A widely respect corporate lawyer, O’Brien is a former head of corporate finance at Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the world’s largest law firms.
The other non-executive directors are Brenda Trenowden, who has a strong history in banking (she is currently head of Financial Institutions for the ANZ Banking Group) and is global chair of the 30% Club, a campaigning organisation which advocates increased representation for women in senior leadership roles; Delia Bushell, who was previously Managing Director of BT Sport & BT TV; and Alan Dickinson, who is a former Chief Executive of RBS UK. Dickinson will also be obliged to step down from his position as Treasurer of Surrey.
But it is the appointment of O’Brien, subject to ratification at the ECB’s AGM, which is most intriguing. The compensation payments from the ECB are currently the subject of an external review by the Good Governance Institute and, in 2007, O’Brien was fined by the Law Society in 2007 for breaching his duty to a client and bringing his profession into disrepute. It emerged he had advised a consortium run by Philip Green over a proposed takeover of Marks & Spencer who had been a longstanding client of his employer, Freshfields.
The new non-executive directors were chosen by the ECB’s Nominations Committee, headed by ECB chairman Colin Graves, following a series of formal interviews. The board is reducing in size from 13 to 12 and, in line with Sport England guidelines, attempting to increase its gender diversity. And while it is noticeable that there is no representative of a Category C ground (a non-international venue) on the board, the ECB had previously announced it would create a board independent of individual county interests.
Former county chairmen Chris Grant (Derbyshire) and James May (Sussex), who it is understood was interviewed as part of the process, had previously intimated their desire to stand for a position on the board, though it is unclear whether Grant subsequently applied.
While it has not been yet announced, ESPNcricinfo understands that the ECB’s non-executive directors will shortly be paid somewhere in the region of 15,000 a year, before expenses, or up to 150,000 a year for the chairman. Graves has intimated he may well waive any personal payment.
Among those stepping down from the ECB board are former chairman Giles Clarke, who has been an ever-present for more than a decade, Peter Wright and Ian Lovett – former chairmen of Nottinghamshire and Middlesex respectively. Surrey chairman Richard Thompson and Andy Nash – who had stepped down as chairman of Somerset in the hope of remaining as a non-executive director at the ECB – both recently resigned having cited their dissatisfaction at the compensation payments and the corporate governance of the organisation.