MCC news December 14, 2012

MCC Royal Charter eases financial fears

MCC has been granted a Royal Charter, so easing the fears of its members that they could become liable should the club's redevelopment plans ever run into financial difficulties.

Royal approval also guards MCC against the possibility that the members' club could fall prey to a takeover bid.

The charter, which comes into effect in July next year, is awarded by the Queen on the advice of the Privy Council and alters MCC's status from that of unincorporated association to become a body incorporated by royal charter.

Royal Charters are reserved for eminent professional bodies or charities with a proven record of achievement and which can show that they operate in the public interest.

MCC established a working party last year under the chairmanship of Peter Leaver, a London-based barrister, to consider the status and governance of the club. MCC's 18,000-strong membership overwhelmingly approved a recommendation to apply for a Royal Charter with 97.4% voting in favour at a special general meeting in June this year.

The club accordingly sent a petition to the Privy Council, together with a draft charter. It was considered and approved by The Queen at a meeting of the Privy Council on Wednesday.

Incorporation will enable MCC to hold assets - not least Lord's itself - in its own name, rather than through a custodian trustee. It will also remove any potential liability of individual members - as owners of the club - in the event of MCC finding itself in great financial difficulty.

Royal Charters are far from automatic - even for such an august body as MCC. The club has applied unsuccessfully twice before, in 1864 and 1929.

MCC's president, Mike Griffith, said: "After two previously unsuccessful attempts, it is a great honour to be incorporated by Royal Charter - and one of which the club is immensely proud. "MCC plays an important role in the promotion, protection and development of cricket - it is a private members' club with a very public responsibility. This charter means we can better protect our members' rights and assets, and strengthens our ability to work for the good of game in the UK and abroad."

At one time a Royal Charter was the sole means by which an incorporated body could be formed, but other means, such as forming a limited company, are normally used nowadays.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo