The following statement was made by the club at 4pm
Somerset County Cricket Club statement April 10 2017
The General Committee of Somerset County Cricket Club has unanimously approved a key change to the ECB Articles of Association which if similarly accepted by the required majority of Counties, will pave the way for the introduction of a new T20 tournament in England and Wales.
It is important to note that the new competition, while being the most controversial initiative, is not a standalone one. It is part of the games Cricket Unleashed Strategy which contains several separate but linked initiatives to reboot and expand the sport in England and Wales. The other plans include All Stars cricket for 5-8 year olds, the U19 Cup competition, South Asian engagement, Women's cricket and substantial support for Chance to Shine.
Somerset Chairman, Andy Nash said:
"After considerable discussion and consultation with Members, the General Committee have voted to unanimously support the new ECB proposals. There was a clear understanding of the opportunities that a new tournament offers as part of the Cricket Unleashed strategy, to reconnect cricket with the wider British public, return an element of cricket to free to air television, grow a bigger spectator audience, drive levels of participation for boys and girls, whilst also underpinning the financial future of cricket. Somerset has always sought to avoid a myopic view of the cricketing landscape and our decision is intended to reflect the best interests of the game as a whole.
It would however be remiss not to record the considerable unease and concern of our General Committee in regard to some potential longer term implications of this decision. There are clear risks but ones that on balance we consider worth taking.It is vital from our perspective that the blue riband County Championship is nurtured and protected, the Royal London One Day Cup is well-supported and that the Natwest T20 Blast continues to expand and prosper; it is commercially essential and is our most effective driver of growth in the region we serve. ECB have made clear assurances in this regard.
In addition it is essential that the governance of the new T20 tournament is completely under the joint ownership and control of the 18FCCs and MCC. It will be the Counties own tournament which is very different to how it was originally positioned two years ago.
We further expect that Somerset, as a Category B ground, will be provided with the opportunity to stage matches in the new tournament, as well as being allowed to continue bidding for ODI and IT20 cricket in the future.
In sum, we are not signing a ‘blank cheque’ for the new T20 competition and we expect the ECB to continue to engage with us and protect the interests of ALL non-test match Clubs as the work continues to develop the new competition. In short, Somerset wants to see 18 thriving Counties not an elite group of 8 with 10 stragglers trailing in their wake.
Cricket in England and Wales has been through a prolonged and at times bruising debate about the future. The game's 18 FCCs and MCC are a very mixed garden so we only rarely glimpse universal agreement to significant proposals.
If, as we expect, the new T20 is approved by the wider game we will put our shoulder to the wheel and do our utmost to make the new competition a roaring success and play our part in ensuring that this great game of ours flourishes in the future."
I hope the way Andy Nash has put it is the way it goes and that we see Somerset continue to prosper and our facilities to be continued to be Invested in to turn Taunton into an even better ground than it already is.
However I am a Somerset Supporter and will not be jumping on the Band Wagon and supporting a South West Franchise side.
That seems to be a carefully nuanced statement from Andy Nash - I don't see that Somerset had any option but go along with the new competition.
Personally I find the whole concept to be flawed but clearly it is going to happen. It's highly unlikely I shall go to watch some band of mercenaries play even if they are plying their trade at The County Ground.
I'm afraid we little people have very little influence in these matters as we have seen many times.
I have no interest in many merceneries topping up their pension pots, so the competition means nothing to me - wherever the matches are held will be an opportunity for more people to get p-ss-d up with little interest in the cricket.
My hope is that Somerset CCC can continue to offer us their own entertaining form of cricket sometime during each summer until the lunatics who have gained control of the ECB are replaced.
Old Boy! (Life member of Somerset CCC)
The management of SCCC over the last decade and probably before has transformed the Club. We have the best appointed of the non-Test grounds, financially we are one of the soundest of the County Clubs and we are the longest standing First Division Club – 10 seasons.
Now a decision on which the very existence of the Club may depend has been made based on “assurances” and “expectations”. The statement seems to me, on the face of it, to have less justification in substance, than any I can recall seeing from the Club. Before I go on to say why I think this I would like to say that I have absolutely no doubt that the General Committee voted with absolute good faith and I have no doubt they believe they have come down on balance on the right side of a very difficult equation. (I also, as it happens, believe the same of the ECB having heard Colin Graves and Tom Harrison speak). I have serious doubts that they and the ECB have got this right for the following reasons:
Firstly, the statement refers to “considerable discussion and consultation with Members”. The only formal consultation with members of which I am aware consisted of one meeting a couple of weeks ago for which no advance information was available. Neither was any consultation document published to which members who could not attend the meeting (I was 200 miles away) could respond in an informed way. There was an offer from a poster on this website to feed information into an Area Committee to which I responded with my significant concerns about the proposal but could only base my views on various media reports. Further, information on the ECB website has in my opinion, to say the least, been nebulous or non-existent throughout the process. The ECB talks about transparency. To my mind little of this constitutes transparency beyond the hierarchies of County Clubs.
Secondly, the statement says:
“It is vital from our perspective that the blue riband Specsavers County Championship is nurtured and protected, the Royal London One-Day Cup is well-supported and that the NatWest T20 Blast continues to expand and prosper; it is commercially essential and is our most effective driver of growth in the region we serve. ECB have made clear assurances in this regard.”
I agree entirely with all of the first part of this statement and each part in equal measure. As to the ECB “assurances” there is no indication as to the form which these take. It would be reassuring to a degree to know that either they are in writing or at least formally minuted in a form of words that means Counties can enforce the “assurances”. If they are, then in the interests of transparency, can a copy be made available to members via the Club website so that members can provide an informed opinion as Grockle thinks Andy Nash wishes us to. If they are not then I worry that in under pressure they may prove less than robust particularly if they include caveats and those who made them have by then moved on.
Thirdly, the statement says,
“In sum, we are not signing a ‘blank cheque’ for the new T20 competition and we expect the ECB to continue to engage with us and protect the interests of all non-test match Clubs as the work continues to develop the new competition.”
Could Andy Nash explain in what form these “expectations” exist and especially in the event that the ECB did not meet them how the Club, and others, would be able to hold the ECB to its expectations. The answer to this, and how the ECB could be held strictly to its assurances, is absolutely fundamental in my view as to whether the decision of the General Committee is sound.
Fourthly, the statement refers to,
“considerable unease and concern of our General Committee in regard to some potential longer term implications of this decision”,
What were these concerns, and why, given they were “considerable”, did the General Committee think they were worth overriding and on what basis? In my view members should be given more information on this since the decision made in spite of the considerable concerns is said to have been taken because:
“Somerset wants to see 18 thriving Counties and not an elite group of 8 with 10 stragglers trailing in their wake”.
and it would be helpful to know how the general Committee thinks the decision achieves this because:
1) The competition may well be owned by the ECB in the form of the MCC and the 18 Counties each with a vote. However, if the new competition is successful there must be a real concern that power will flow to the Clubs hosting the competition and therefore providing all the facilities and therefore primarily responsible for generating the income. Governance rules can be changed as this vote demonstrates and against "considerable unease and concern".
2) The best players may well drift towards the Clubs hosting the competition. This is precisely what has happened between Second and First Divisions in the CC meaning it is now very difficult for Second Division Clubs to establish themselves in the First Division. The structure being put in place may be designed to try to minimise this possibility but see 1) above. If that happens the hosting Clubs may well begin to question why £1.3m p.a. of the proceeds should continue passing to small clubs providing fewer and fewer players. The governance rules of the competition may be designed to prevent that but see 1) above. Further if the drift of players does occur, and I can see no reason why it would not, then this will add force to the dynamic in 1) above.
If 1) and 2) occur, and unforseen circumstances arise, and the assurances and expectations are not set in stone, then I am concerned that the votes of the 10 may turn out to be sandcastles in the face of an incoming tide and the eventuality which the General Committee is determined to avoid may turn out to be what it has opened the flood gates to.
I could say much more about whatI consider to be the flawed thinking behind this proposal (and did when I submitted my thoughts ahead of the Area Committee) but the decision has been made so the time for that is past. What is important now is to know on what basis the Club has received assurances and on what it bases its expectations.
I say this as someone who enjoys T20 (although less than 50 over and considerably less than the CC), is a Platinum member for that reason and have been to four T20 Finals Days. T20, to my mind, is a highly skilled game, essential to the future of cricket and its finances and it is not the issue here. The nature of the proposed competition is and there was in my view a perfectly viable and much safer alternative.
Sorry for the essay Grockle, and thanks to anyone who managed to get through it, but you did ask!
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:04:11:12:53:42 by Farmer White.
I'm not particularly bothered about how informed the opinion is Farmer.
But I know Mr Nash does read opinions here because they are explained/informed. Facebook gives him 'HOORAY' or 'GRRRR' and very little else. We give him something and the reasoning behind it and then we expand the issue amongst ourselves and tease out the issues even more.
Especially when we get well expanded essays from some parts that show someone has really thought this through.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 2017:04:11:12:45:54 by Grockle.
Realistically, the heavily-indebted (badly run?) Test counties have been pushing for something that would allow them to enrich themselves relative to others for a long time. And I'm sure they believe that they have a divine right to the bulk of the income, the best players etc. They will certainly be hoping that the scenario outlined in FW's scenario 2), above, comes to pass. And I firmly believe that the likes of Graves are, privately, hoping for the same thing. They hope that this new competition, based at only some grounds, will provide an inexorable logic that will lead to an eventual 'rationalisation,' of the 18 counties for all competitions.
As I understand it, the issue is that the popularity of cricket has diminished since a high point of public consciousness following the 2005 Ashed series, this is as a direct result of the Sky paywall. The game has largely been financed by high TV rights deals for international cricket driven by demand from India - but this income stream is failing due to India being obsessed with T20. Eight of the thirty eight games is to be on free to air, but that does not seem enough to cultivate the new fan base that needs to be found, yet free to air TV will not pay sufficient money to bring cricket back from behind the paywall.
Somerset are coping well, financially, as a team and are very well supported, but we don't want to have to play Surrey every week as they are the only county left apart from us!
I appreciate that Somerset are on the outside of Test ground cabal, but have sympathy for the officers responsible for making the decision as for us there seems very little upside, except if it works, and it is to me a massive IF, the county championship will be funded for a few more years.
I can't see the T20 Blast surviving as it has to be classed a second rate competition to the new T20, also it's played out of the prime weather window and in a block doesn't work for supporters. The 50 over comp will be quasi 2nd XI and it's survival must be a doubt.
My preference would have been for a two division T20 Blast with promotion and regulation. I attend T20 cricket at Taunton, but would not consider crossing the road to watch the 8 team comp. At least I now know from attending the members consultation that the club know that few members will be watching the new comp. There does seem to be a very strong chance that the baby is going out with the bath water. I wish I had the answer
I suppose we have three more seasons to enjoy what we currently have and then just have to hope it works so that County cricket can survive.
I am grateful to Andy Nash for providing the information to this forum that he does.
To really get noticed cricket needs to be on BBC1 or 2.
I can't see BBC1,or 2. or ITV, and probably not Ch 4 being interested.
Why not? Well, same problem you always have with cricket. Uncertain ending time (could over run if a late start due to weather)- or an 'on off' weather ruined game- or rained off altogether, and the need to replace with something else. So- it might be 'free to air' as in ITV2, 3 or 4, or something like that, but I can't see any of the main channels being willing to disrupt their prime time evening schedule for a weather dependent event that may, or may not take place. That in turn suggests that the terrestrial rights won't be worth much to the ECB- so they are gambling on BT and Sky getting in to a bidding war for the other matches. But what if they don't? What if one of them decides they are not interested in bidding? Like any auction, it needs at least two bidders who really want it- otherwise it won't be wort a lot.
New fans will only be gained if it is on one of the main channels. Hiding it away on ITV 2 (which is probably the best they can hope for) isn't going to get many casual viewers stumbling on it by accident.
I can't believe we've voted for this, like turkeys at Christmas.
It seems obvious to me that (tin foil hat) this is part on a long term plan to centralise control of the counties under the ECB. So the statement says we're allowed to bid for matches? Big deal! They might throw us a bone in year one or two, but gradually they'll reduce our matches until we don't get any and it's just the big city grounds that have them.
Right now, we have these "assurances", but we know how easily fundamental rules like the insistence on 18 counties can be forced through, so I don't hold much faith in vague promises. How much resistance will counties put up once they're already used to spending the 1.3m from the ECB each year?
The other aspect is that if this does catch, it leaves little for the counties to compete in. The County T20 will be second tier, compared the well marketed franchise competition, the 50 over comp will have half second team players, leaving just the CC.
Obviously most of us on here love the CC above all the others, but how are we expecting the next generation to come in? If they support Bristol/Cardiff in T20, are they going to turn up to watch us shorn of our best 5 players in the 50 over? No, they're just going to support Cardiff, if that.
MCC or Middlesex Grockle? I can't find anything on the MCC website.
However Middlesex have announced they will be voting against with the following comment: "We welcome the ECB's commitment to a further revision to its articles to provide the protections (for the non-hosting counties) that we require - but until these commitments become legally binding, we cannot support the current change of articles of association." If MCC have also voted against so much the better.
At the very least in my view that should have been Somerset's position rather than being at the head of the charge to approve (Somerset being in the first four to approve according to Sky Sports). To put the future of the Club in the hands of non-legally binding assurances as this statement suggests the General Committee has done is not in my view good enough.
Yes Farmer. Dashed it off on the way out. It is of course from Middlesex snd not the MCC. Especially like the point they make about those not hosting and theur future. I think Somerset believe they can maintain their revenue streams in the new world (I don't agree if it means accepting a 'drop' in perceived status) and so they made the best of a bad job instead of really sounding out their membership and standing with them however they decided.
Revenue streams instead of representation to me I'm afraid. I find the Middlesex stance more 'decent , honest and truthful'.
Just goes to show it's no good unless you're going to be a host ground, when at least you'll get some payoff outside of the 1.3m bribe. As at absolute best we'd be a third of a South West team (and even that is very optimistic, we're not a city, and much smaller ground than Bristol & Cardiff), so we're being very naive.
I actually think Somerset believe they will still fill the ground even for sub standard games without the significant players. I don't think they see the support making any kind of trip and putting up with any game on the ground.
They may be right though gate prices may need to fall and that mentality does not defend the principles of the game which I'd hope they'd stand behind more solidly.
The management's acceptance of ECB promises regarding their support for the CC is naive IMO but that seems what they held into as their reason for going with Urban20
I think the club believe that, as an 'international ground,' they will be permitted to host some of the games.
I think they are perhaps guilty of having a glint in their eye and thinking 'we will do well from this,' and not caring sufficiently about the Leicestershires and Derbyshires who will, most assuredly, not do well out of this.
Middx members and supporters should feel proud of their committee.
And, of course, Farmer White is spot-on that is unacceptable for our guys to have accepted non-legally binding guarantees.
I can't see there being a city franchise called 'Taunton'
But there could easily be one called 'Cardiff', in which case I would imagine they would expect to play all their home games at Cardiff. Why would 'Cardiff' want to play a 'home' game at Taunton?
As teams have to bid for players you could easily end up with Overton C playing for Leeds, Overton J for Manchester, Gregory for Birmingham, Leach for Nottingham- with no local players on show even if Taunton did hold a match.
And to test the 'city' theory there ought to be games in Liverpool, Newcastle, Norwich- but they don't have county grounds, let alone an ODI standard ground. Chester-le-street is too far out to get 'casual newcomers' who have finished a days work in Newcastle- so, as all the grounds need to be established grounds, you might as well give them county names.....
As far as I can see if there are to only be 8 teams then you only need 8 grounds.
If you are asking new fans to support a new team why should they if it contains no home grown players, and, if we say the team is called Cardiff it ends up playing some home games at Gloucester and Taunton. People in Taunton won't turn out to support a team called Cardiff, And why would you turn out to support your new 'team' Cardiff if they are only going to play a couple of home games in Cardiff, before disappearing to play 'home' games elsewhere?
It looks like they might create some kind of 'West' side from Glos, Glamorgan and Somerset which tries to fob off Bristol and Taunton by playing the odd game there and uses SWALEC whenever possible. If it has a Cardiff slant it will also need to have a Welsh feel to it so some of the players who might be drafted into this debacle will not be picked up by the local draft and will have to ply their trade further afield.
This will be their attempt to keep the West Country quiet but it will not work because few will drive for up to 5 hours for 3 hours of cricket joy in the Welsh Capital or even the hour from Taunton to Brizz to NOT park near that manufactured mess called the Bristol ground.
It is why I believe that the Somerset management think they can still milk the semi captive Somerset audience with Blast T20's because we are out of joint with the UrbanT20 scheme. I've said as much in the front piece on the other thread.
It may work to some extent but it won't do anything at all to save the quality of the games at the County Ground and how long can you dupe the punter for? The actual cricket audience in the West Country is not stupid and will still see this for what it is in the grand scheme of things. It's all a bit shabby in so many ways.
Fair comment Grockle (yours 9.44)
However as far as I'm concerned the eight team competition holds no interest for me. I will not travelling to Bristol or Cardiff to see two teams of highly paid individuals playing tip and run as we used to sixty years ago.
My garden will be well looked after this year.
I think you have misinterpreted my view of the competition OB!
I certainly do not support the view of the club or Mr Nash concerning the importance of the UrbanT20 to the world of cricket.
I also do not believe any promises of our central body that are not tied up legally. If their lips are moving then they are misleading someone.
Did the club's representatives canvass opinion and vote based on that or did they go the way they thought was best for the club? I think the statement in my earlier post gives me the answer to that and that saddens me because I thought we were a different club to that.
I'm with you sir.... Urban cricket in Bristol or Cardiff which does not include my county doesn't get my support because I have no interest in the result. So why would I travel to see it.
Constitutionally MPs are representatives not delegates and so vote with their own judgement and do not need, constitutionally, to take account of their constituents views. However as Zac Goldsmith discoverd in Richmond they ignore their constituents' views at their peril.
As to the Somerset committee I assume they acted constitutionally within the Club's rules. However I do think they need to pause for thought when they vote against the views of probably the overwhelming majority of the membership on what are the best interests of Somerset and of English cricket. I have seen only one post on here in favour of the T20 proposals and I have heard no-one support them in conversation. I doubt the Club and the membership have ever been so diametrically opposed to each other. Not even over the departure of Viv Richards and Joel Garner.
Presumably there was nothing to stop members from mobilising, and getting enough votes to force an extraordinary general meeting, and a vote of no confidence in the board. I'm disappointed that somewhere down the line this didn't happen at one or two counties. The thought of being unseated might have made some counties rethink.
Somerset can't change. That is my reply to the question asked above post.
I take your point Farmer. But if a politician is going to stand for election at a local level but vote as an individual linked to a specific party then that should be made clear to their local electorate before they cast their vote.
Voters expect their MP to represent their views and SCCC members should expect the same from their representatives.
I agree with your assessment that it was pretty clear how the large majority of the membership felt about this proposal and if there was no intention to take notice of that the representatives should not have played lip service to 'consultation' when the decision seems to have effectively been made in advance.
I have to admit that the meeting preamble before Taunton did read to me from a distance as a selling exercise of the plan rather than a question and answer process so that the executive could formulate Somerset's answer.
As I say, I think the belief was that this was the way to go and if this had been a request for an individual opinion then I could respect that but it wasn't.
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