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ECB to review position of non-executive director Delia Bushell as Ian Watmore takes over as chair

New ECB chair must assess fall-out from Bushell's Jockey Club resignation

George Dobell
George Dobell
Delia Bushell is an ECB independent director  •  Getty Images

Delia Bushell is an ECB independent director  •  Getty Images

The ECB is expected to review the position of Delia Bushell as a non-executive director after she was forced out of her role as chief executive of the Jockey Club.
Bushell stepped down after less than a year in her role at the horse racing body, after a review into her conduct by an independent barrister upheld allegations which included the bullying of colleagues, the use of racist comments and sharing offensive material. A statement from the Jockey Club stated that, in light of the review, "the board concluded… it [was] untenable for her to continue in the role".
Bushell has strongly rejected the claims. Her letter of resignation speaks of a "flawed and biased" disciplinary process which was "fundamentally mishandled by the board of stewards". She also spoke of "collusion by a number of male witnesses, all senior executives in the Jockey Club".
The episode puts the ECB in an uncomfortable position. Not only is Bushell's expertise valued - as a former executive at both Sky and BT Sport, she is seen as an expert in the area of media rights - but the ECB is likely to be sympathetic towards her suggestion that, as a woman in "a male-dominated organisation that has a troubling history of ignoring serious complaints against senior men and which seeks to discredit and ostracise anyone challenging its status quo", she has been the victim of what she describes as "a deeply unpleasant 'stitch up'".
"We do not underestimate the seriousness of the claims made against Delia, but we will seek to review and discuss what is clearly a complex matter with both her and the Jockey Club before commenting further," the ECB said in a statement on Monday.
Bushell joined the ECB board in May 2018. Her future will be just one of the challenges facing Ian Watmore who officially started his stint as ECB chairman on Tuesday. The ECB has marked his appointment with a number of changes.
Among those are the appointment of Brenda Trenowden as the board's senior independent director. Trenowden will also chair the expanded Environmental, Social and Governance sub-committee. She succeeds the departing Lord Kamlesh Patel, whose five-year tenure might be remembered most for his involvement with the South Asian Action Plan.
Meanwhile former Glamorgan chair, Barry O'Brien, will take over as deputy chair and will also act as the alternate director to represent the ECB on the ICC board when required. Alan Dickinson will chair an enhanced Finance, Audit and Risk sub-committee.
A process to recruit a new independent director will commence during September with new appointments being made by November 1. Derek Brewer's term as board advisor on network stakeholders will be extended to the 2021 AGM.
In addition, Andrew Strauss has accepted an invitation to attend board meetings in a non-voting capacity. Not only was the board keen to extend the depth of playing knowledge on the board, but some believe Strauss is being groomed for a return to an executive position at the ECB. If Tom Harrison were to depart, for example, Strauss would be a strong contender as new chief executive.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo