County news August 10, 2011

Angry Kent members seek election

George Dobell

A group of disaffected Kent members, alarmed by the club's financial losses and under-performance on the field, have announced they will stand as 'reform candidates' at the next elections for the Kent general committee.

The pair, long-term Kent members Graham Holland and Nigel Williamson, are appealing for greater transparency and accountability in the management of the club. In the last three years Kent have been relegated twice from Division One of the county championship and have sustained operating losses of more than £2 million.

The club have predicted further losses of £400,000 this year and are enduring another miserable season on the pitch. Yet, despite the obvious issues, they claim there has not been a contested election for the Kent committee since 2008.

Holland said: ''I am saddened to see the club which I have supported since 1957 plumb the depths to which it has sunk currently. In over 50 years, I have never known such despondency, nor what I see as the widening gap between the committee and its members, as I do today."

In their 'reform programme' the pair are calling for a detailed independent report to be conducted by someone outside the club on the reasons for the under-performance on the field over the last two years and an overhaul of the club's commercial operation and the introduction of a range of new money-raising initiatives.

Nigel Williamson added: '' Elections are the lifeblood of democracy. By standing, we hope to enable a debate about the way forward and to offer members a decisive break with the errors of the past. This is an enormous opportunity for KCCC to open the windows, let in the air and make a fresh start, based on the principles of accountability and transparency.''

However, Kent's chief executive, Jamie Clifford, cautiously welcomed the pair's involvement. "We're a members' club, so we need and welcome members standing for election to the committee," Clifford said. "We actually believe we're doing all the things they are suggesting already, but they have every right to stand for election.

"Yes, we're all frustrated by how we've performed on the pitch. We have high expectations and we want to do better.

"But I don't know why Kent have the tag of being 'the' cash-strapped county. Sixteen of the 18 first-class clubs announced losses last year and we were one of them. We also invested £5m in our ground and have a strong sense of where we're going."

Kent have just completed phase one of a development project that will, eventually, see a new supermarket and hotel upon their site. Clifford hopes the club will return to profitability in two or three years. The next committee elections take place in March 2012.

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