Sporting administrators are no exception, and the past weeks have seen them tested to the utmost, not always with happy consequences (in Australia, leaders of three major codes have gone, in part due to the pressures created by the covid-19 crisis).
In these days of worldwide lockdown, many scheduled meetings are being conducted by video link, but the Board of the KNCB has chosen an alternative way of dealing with the statutory requirement that they hold a general meeting at some point between 31 January and 16 May, that is, during the period that physical meetings are covered by government prohibition.
The planned meeting on 16 April was therefore postponed, and the Board has informed the clubs that because it had ‘insufficient confidence in the practicality’ of using a digital platform to hold a virtual meeting – something that other organisations seem to be able to manage – a small number of pressing items are being handled through an electronic process.
Five proposals were put to the clubs on 17 April, and they have been given until 30 April to submit their questions by e-mail. Replies by the appropriate board member will then be published on the KNCB website, and the clubs will have until 7 May (one week later) to vote on the proposals.
Three of the five are essentially formal – election of former international Jacob Jan Esmeijer to the Board and of Mohammad Allah Rakha to the Finance Committee, and notification of the demission of Appeals Committee chairman Floris Bannier – but it is the two financial proposals which are likely to give rise to some concern, especially in these unusual circumstances.
Approval of the audited accounts for 2019 might be straightforward, not least because a budgeted profit of €79.8k. has been turned into an actual one of €364k., thanks in large measure to the windfall of €155k. from the cancelled Euro Slam competition and a better-than-projected exchange rate outcome of €105.5k.
But the 2020 budget (one of the requirements of the constitution being that this is presented at the spring meeting) is provided only in the form of the most rudimentary of bottom lines, amounting to an operating profit of €257 on estimated income of €2.8m.
There is, perhaps, a good deal of justification for the Board’s claim that the current situation is so uncertain that no more detailed budget is possible – the cancellation of the summer’s international programme, for example, has only been confirmed since these papers were finalised -- but there might be some searching questions about the effect of that announcement, even on the summary estimate of a more-or-less balanced budget.
Most controversy, however, is likely to be aroused by the second financial proposal, to transfer $US300k. from the KNCB into the coffers of the recently-established company Cricket Nederland BV.
This company was set up last year, amidst a good deal of concern among some clubs, to run the Netherlands’ major cricket events, and while it is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the KNCB, the general meeting has only indirect insight into its operations.
No budget has therefore been provided to explain why the equivalent of €275k. is needed in the 2020 financial year, especially now that there will in fact be no international events to be organised.
The answer may be that salaries still need to be paid, but that would raise anew the concerns of some about lack of transparency about the division of responsibilities of KNCB staff who may or may not be seconded to the company, and equally about payments to KNCB chair Betty Timmer, which until now have been (somewhat reluctantly) accepted by the clubs on a year-to-year basis.
These were matters which caused a good deal of angst a year ago, and which may only be exacerbated as the full implications of the decision to establish the company begin to become evident at a time when normal scrutiny in a general meeting (even a virtual one) is deemed to be impossible.
For it is quite clear that the procedure adopted by the Board falls short in a number of respects of the requirements of the constitution: not only will there be no debate (and possibly no scope for moving amendments), but the Board has presented neither the minutes nor its annual report, both required in articles 16 and 17 of the Statutes.
Nor will there be any opportunity for the normal consideration of any other business members wish to raise.
In short, there must be quite properly questions about whether the procedure imposed by the Board amounts to a meeting within the terms of the Constitution at all, and in particular whether a measure as radical as the first-ever transfer of a significant sum of the KNCB’s funds to Cricket Nederland BV should in such circumstances be agreed to.