KNCB general meeting a game of two halves

Netherlands KNCB

Whatever the attractions of shorter formats on the cricket field may be, it was clear on Tuesday evening that the same does not apply to general meetings of the KNCB.

The regular December meeting lasted three hours, during which club representatives served up some lively bouncers and the occasional wrong ‘un, mainly directed at chairman Jurgen Delfos and treasurer Amit Parulekar, at the end of which so much of the agenda remained undiscussed that it was agreed to adjourn until next week, when the rest of the business will be dealt with.

That is not to suggest that the meeting was unduly leisurely or that the matters discussed were unimportant: on the contrary, the debate was generally constructive and the concerns aired were entirely legitimate.

But the KNCB is currently batting on a tricky wicket, and it is therefore not surprising if theoretically routine matters need more careful negotiation than usual.

The atmosphere was not helped by the fact that many of the papers had been circulated late, a circumstance which may have been due in no small measure to the fact that the KNCB is operating at the moment without a CEO. Actions do, after all, have consequences.

That, however, was only part of the problem: the manner in which the financial situation was reported, whether on paper or through a PowerPoint in the meeting, was found by many club representatives to be unduly opaque – it was, said one club chairman, a ‘black box’ as far as he was concerned.

It made little difference that the chairman of the Financial Committee (effectively a kind of internal auditor) assured the meeting that his committee was satisfied that ‘there was plenty of money, which is carefully used and well spent’.

The bottom line for 2021 was that the Bond had an operational deficit of €219k., but that because an unspent balance of €380k. from 2020 had been carried over into the current year for precisely this contingency, the final outcome for the year was expected to be a surplus of €160k.

Once the clubs had got their minds round this calculation, attention turned to the provisional budget for 2022, which at this point envisages a deficit of almost €328k.on a total budget of around €2.5 million.

It was immediately pointed out that this was at odds with the draft Annual Plan for 2022, which talked in terms of breaking even next year; Parulekar and Delfos both explained that the definitive budget which would be presented to the April general meeting would undoubtedly be adjusted in the light of developments meantime, and that that would be the point at which reconciliation of the budget and the Plan would really matter, while acceptance of the provisional budget was needed so that staff could continue to be paid from 1 January (it’s not often that a KNCB meeting starts to sound like the US Congress).

Finally, it was agreed that the draft budget would be considered again when the meeting resumed next week, and in the meantime Parulekar would be available to explain things more clearly to anyone who was interested.

What did need to be resolved, however, was the recurring matter of an allocation to Cricket Nederland BV, the wholly-owned subsidiary of the KNCB Board which is responsible for organising major events, and specifically the home Super League series.

The BV had asked for the transfer of €168k. (essentially an annual tranche of the funding received from the ICC for hosting Super League events), plus a guarantee against loss of a minimum of €57k. from the KNCB’s own resources and a further grant of €80k from its High Performance budget.

The relationship between the KNCB and the BV has been a source of friction at general meetings since the latter was established in 2019, and this time someone asked the edge-of-the-abyss question: what would happen if the meeting declined to agree to the transfer?

Delfos’s answer was unambiguous: then the BV would be unable to organise the events, and since the KNCB would be unable to do so as well, the series would necessarily have to be cancelled, causing unimaginable problems with the ICC.

The clubs had in any case seen a report from the Financial Committee following their meeting with the BV, which estimated that if the Covid situation required that next season’s Super League series against England, the West Indies and Pakistan be played behind closed doors the loss could be as high as €1.5 million, which would be unjustifiable unless the ICC were prepared to step in.

Still, the BV needed to get on with organising the events, and the meeting, faced with no real choice, accepted the Board’s strong recommendation to agree to the requested transfer and guarantee. The €80k. from High Performance remains to be agreed along with the rest of the provisional budget.

Earlier, there had been reports from High Performance Manager Roland Lefebvre and Participation Manager Emile Buijs regarding the activities of their respective departments during the year.

The most sensitive part of these items was Lefebvre’s account of the build-up to the disappointing performance of the national men’s team in the World T20 Cup, a catalogue of cancelled fixtures, problems with Covid and the biosecure environment, and difficulties assembling the full squad. Not everyone was entirely convinced: it was, said one chairman, ‘a scandalous story’, when every other country was also wrestling with the problem of the pandemic.

Earlier still, Delfos had announced that the Board had appointed former national captain Jeroen Smits to provide support to Lefebvre in the High Performance area, while Board member Mudi Allah Rakha would replace Hans Mulder as its representative on the BV’s Supervisory Board.

As for the fallout from the dismissal of CEO Milena van Not and the special general meeting on 1 December, the Board would be interviewing three candidates for the post of interim CEO the following evening; this appointment was expected to last for four or five months, buying time for a full procedure leading to a permanent appointment.

In the meantime, Huibert Brands, a specialist in governance of sports organisations who had been recommended by NOC*NSF, had agreed to take on the mediation role initiated by the 1 December meeting and would start by interviewing both current Board members and those who had recently resigned. He would then decide what further steps he needed to take.

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