Anyone who had hoped that the current governance crisis within the KNCB might come to an amicable conclusion will probably have had their optimism dispelled with the circulation of a memorandum from the Board seeking to explain the controversial termination of the contract of CEO Milena van Not and the subsequent resignations of Board members Jacob-Jan Esmeijer and Hans Mulder.
Signed on behalf of the Board by KNCB secretary Robert Vermeulen, the memorandum complains that ‘there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the non-extension of the contract of the CEO and questions about relationships within the Board’, with ‘incorrect information’ in circulation.
Mr Vermeulen goes on to state that as an employer the KNCB cannot release any information about the ending of a contract, adding that ‘to avoid damage to reputations and with respect for details from the personnel file’, the Board will say no more than that the co-operation [between Board and CEO] ‘did not yield enough for the contract to be extended’.
He does, however, claim that the Board had, when appointing Ms.van Not, identified three priority areas: general growth, sponsorship and marketing, and optimisation of the KNCB’s internal organisation.
It was in these areas that the Board seems to have concluded that in ten months insufficient progress had been made to justify continuing the CEO’s appointment.
It seems unlikely that this explanation will cut much ice with the dissident clubs.
HBS chairman Ewout Boendermaker said that it was unbelievable that after she had been dealing for less than a year with the intractable problems confronting Dutch cricket, the Board had decided that Ms. van Not had made ‘insufficient progress’.
‘We weren’t even able to start playing until July because of the pandemic,’ Boendermaker pointed out.
‘Because of the improbable reasons provided by the Board for the termination of the contract and the lack of concrete KPIs agreed with the CEO, there must be another agenda they are not telling us about.’
Clubs are reacting with even greater disbelief to the section of Mr Vermeulen’s memorandum relating to the resignations of Messrs Esmeijer and Mulder.
‘The suggestion in the “corridors” is that this occurred because they saw the writing on the wall,’ he writes.
‘That is not correct. The reason for their departure was the unnuanced and antagonistic tone of the debate which was and is being pursued within the KNCB, as well as the lack of cohesion within the Board and the consequent tensions.
‘These remain voluntary positions which one takes on with confidence to be able to make a contribution to Dutch cricket and which furthermore need to be pleasurable. It wasn’t for them any longer.’
Throwing the blame for the current mood onto those who were outraged by the Board’s treatment of Ms. van Not is a bold move, but unlikely to carry much weight with those who are profoundly dissatisfied with the Board’s performance.
In a separate move, representatives of the dissident clubs, calling themselves the ‘Workgroup Restore Trust’, had earlier circulated a note outlining the grounds for their dissatisfaction which led to their demand for a general meeting, now scheduled to take place on 1 December.
These were: pressing the establishment of Cricket Nederland BV [the company set up to run the KNCB’s major domestic events]; lack of transparency about the finances of the BV; appointment of Betty Timmer as event manager without procedure; appointment of Betty Timmer as CEO of the BV; unilateral termination of the appointment of Jaap Wals as CEO KNCB; overruling of [media manager] Amber de Grooth contract extension (explicit with KNCB CEO, manager) by board without substantive discussions about performance; contract termination of Milena van Not; no substantive justification, vision about wish to become a Full member; poor program and poor preparation NL XI for world tournaments/series (Super League).
Since that list was circulated, of course, the existence of the BV has been called into further question by the ICC’s decision to abolish the Super League, Dutch qualification for which had provided the initial justification for its establishment.
With regular home fixtures against Full members and the consequent television rights now receding rapidly into the distance, the entire financial basis for what has until now been a money-losing proposition for the KNCB appears to have been demolished.
It would be helpful if a re-formed KNCB Board were to turn its mind to such issues rather than the in-fighting it has triggered with its treatment of its CEO.
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