Lancashire members are aiming to force a vote at a special general meeting to block the club from supporting a reduction in the County Championship program – unless they give their consent – as opposition to any shrinking of fixtures intensifies.
The Lancashire Action Group (LAG) has asked the club to guarantee that Daniel Gidney, chief executive, will “defend the first-class game” in discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The future of the domestic game is being discussed as part of the ECB’s High Performance Review, chaired by Andrew Strauss.
Each first-class county currently plays 14 Championship games per season, but a reduction to 10 or 12 games has been proposed.
In response to these concerns, LAG claims it has collected enough member signatures – more than 600 so far – to force a special general meeting. The group says it intends to present the signatures to the club on Wednesday after Lancashire play Worcestershire in a Royal London One-Day Cup match.
It is assumed that, in accordance with the club’s articles of association, an extraordinary general meeting must be held within 28 days after the letter has been received. The last such special general meeting in Lancashire was held 57 years ago, in 1965.
The signatories demand that: “The management of the club will oppose any reduction in the number of first-class matches for next year, unless it has the prior consent of the membership from a further extraordinary general meeting.”
LAG also makes three further demands on the club. First, that it will “fully update the membership and respond to questions for clarification about the ongoing discussions between the counties and the ECB about the potential options for changing the schedule or structure of domestic cricket”.
Secondly, that Lancashire members at the meeting will have the opportunity to “understand in detail the views of the club management and board on the merits of the various options being considered”.
Thirdly, that Lancashire would “extend members attending the meeting the opportunity to explain their priorities if changes are to be made to the timetable/structure”.
Representatives from all 18 first-tier counties met with the ECB for an update on the review and the future domestic schedule last Wednesday. No decisions on the review have yet been made, but a reduction in the overall volume of county cricket is likely to be recommended.
Lancashire has committed to hosting member forums not only on Wednesday but again in September to discuss the 2023 timetable, and says it plans to consult members after receiving formal proposals from the ECB. The club has distanced itself from LAG, where some of the members have been accused of misogyny.
Fifteen of the 18 counties are member-owned, which could potentially be a major stumbling block for counties accepting any reforms suggested by the review.
In a club statement on the proposed changes last week, Lancashire said: “The decision which will be made later in the year, and ultimately voted for by the first-class counties, will not be a commercial decision. Rather, it will be based on the development and welfare of the players ours, which must always be at the forefront of our minds throughout this process.”