KNCB begins to emerge from governance crisis

Scott Edwards_Netherlands

The first signs that the months-long governance crisis of the Dutch governing body, the KNCB, may be reaching a satisfactory conclusion appeared last week, with the announcement that a new four-man Board would be nominated at the Spring general meeting to be held on 20 April.

A committee headed by former KNCB chair Marc Asselbergs has been working since December to put together a Board to replace the one which disintegrated towards the end of last year, following the controversial decision not to continue the contract of CEO Milena van Not.

The proposed chair of the new Board is Guido Landheer (55), a senior civil servant and former cricket chairman of Quick Haag, who is widely respected across the Dutch cricket community; the diplomatic skills he has developed through years of experience in various government departments, including Foreign Affairs and currently in Agriculture, are likely to stand him in good stead in the notoriously fractious world of Dutch cricket, as are the contacts he built up during his seven years as chairman at Quick.

Of the four nominees the only survivor from the previous Board is Mudi Allah Rakha, who was elected last April and who is now proposed as treasurer, succeeding the long-serving Amit Parulekar. It was always planned that he should take over this role, and Asselbergs’ committee appears to believe that continuity in the financial portfolio is more important than the general principle that a clean break should be made with the unhappy events of 2021.

The remaining candidates are for the two portfolios of High Performance and Participation, mirroring the organisation of the KNCB’s office.

Nominated for the former is Reinout Scholte (54), veteran of 126 matches for the national side between 1987 and 2003 and of 426 top-flight games for HBS Craeyenhout and VOC Rotterdam; like Landheer, he also has significant experience as a club administrator, having served for seven years as cricket chair at HBS.

The candidate for the Participation portfolio is Nitin Potdar, the chairman of Qui Vive Amsterdam, which has grown into the largest club in the Netherlands, largely based in the Indian community.

There is no mention in the general meeting papers of the post of secretary, currently held by Robert Vermeulen, nor is there any indication of whether Asselbergs’ committee is proposing a Board of four or five, or whether additional members may be nominated in future.

There is also an unanswered question about the future role of Asselbergs’ committee should the new Board be elected this week.

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Originally established to find the Board, the committee widened its remit at a meeting on 10 February, the status of which is itself controversial.

Called at short notice as an online update session for the clubs, this meeting was then elevated into a formal general meeting once it had started, in clear contravention of the KNCB Constitution.

The argument was that Asselbergs’ committee had been appointed by the outgoing Board, but that it really needed the authority of a general meeting to complete its work.

Furthermore, the committee proposed that its remit be extended to include the appointment process for a new permanent CEO, to succeed the interim CEO, Richard de Winter, at the conclusion of his term.

While the meeting accepted the proposal to convert itself into a formal general meeting, broadly welcomed the committee’s report and agreed to its recommendations, it is unclear whether Asselbergs’ group intends to complete the appointment process of the CEO even after the election of a new Board, and it remains a fact that the 10 February meeting did not meet the constitutional requirements for a general meeting, namely that it should be called with four weeks’ notice and that any papers should be circulated three weeks in advance (rather than two days, as in this case).

These requirements are in the Constitution for good reason: they give every member an opportunity to ensure that they are present, and offer time for clubs to consider any proposal and reach a collective view.

And it can scarcely be true that an unconstitutional meeting can declare itself constitutional just because those present believe that is desirable: if that can happen, why bother to have a Constitution at all?

There is, however, a way out of this difficulty: Wednesday’s meeting, which will, if it is quorate, undoubtedly be constitutional, could homologate (confirm) the decisions made on 10 February, thereby giving them the retrospective authority of a properly convened general meeting.

Such knotty constitutional questions will not be the only issues facing the meeting on 20 April. In addition to the usual raft of annual reports, traditionally passed on the nod, there is continuing dissatisfaction in certain quarters with the proposed competition structure for the 2022 season, which begins next Saturday.

Specifically, Schiedam Hoofdclasse club Hermes-DVS remains unhappy with the arrangements for promotion and relegation between the Hoofdklasse and Topklasse as the Topklasse is reduced from this season’s twelve clubs to ten: the proposal is that the bottom two Topklasse clubs should be relegated automatically, while the club finishing tenth will play off against the champions of the Hoofdklasse.

Hermes, however, insists that there should be automatic promotion for the Hoofdklasse winners, although on two previous occasions when the top division was reduced in size the play-off model was employed.

Then there’s the budget for 2022, which foresees a balanced outcome, thanks in large part to a transfer of about €350k. from the reserves which had been salted away for this purpose during the first two years of the pandemic and which will now largely be used to meet the additional costs associated with the Super League.

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