Lancashire members aim to force through a vote at a special general meeting to block the club from supporting a reduction in the County Championship programme - unless they give their consent - as resistance to any shrinking of fixtures intensifies.
The Lancashire Action Group (LAG) has called upon the club to guarantee that Daniel Gidney, the chief executive, will “defend the first-class game” in discussions with the England and Wales Cricket Board. The future of the domestic game is being discussed as part of the ECB’s High Performance Review, led by Andrew Strauss.
Each first-class county currently plays 14 Championship games per season, but a reduction to 10 or 12 games has been mooted.
In response to these concerns, LAG claims it has collected enough member signatures - more than 600 so far - to force a special general meeting. The group says it intends to present the signatures to the club on Wednesday after Lancashire play Worcestershire in a Royal London One-Day Cup match.
It is believed that, as per the club constitution, a special general meeting must be held within 28 days of receiving the letter. The last such special general meeting at Lancashire was held 57 years ago, in 1965.
The signatories are demanding that: “The club’s management will oppose any reduction in the number of first-class fixtures for next year, unless it has the prior consent of the membership from a further special general meeting.”
LAG is also making three further demands of the club. First, that it will “fully update the membership and respond to questions of clarification on the ongoing discussions among the counties and the ECB on the potential options to alter the schedule or structure of domestic cricket”.
Second, that at the meeting Lancashire’s members will be given the opportunity to “understand in detail the views of club management and the board on the merits of the various options being considered”.
Third, that Lancashire will “extend to the members attending the meeting the opportunity to explain their priorities if any changes to the schedule/structure are to be made”.
Representatives from all 18 first-class counties met with the ECB for an update on the review and future domestic schedule last Wednesday. No decisions about the review have yet been made but a reduction in the overall volume of county cricket is likely to be recommended.
Lancashire have committed to hosting member forums not just on Wednesday but again in September to discuss the schedule for 2023, and say that they plan to consult with members after they have received formal proposals from the ECB. The club have distanced themselves from LAG, some of whose members have been accused of misogyny.
Fifteen of the 18 counties are owned by members, who could potentially be a major stumbling block to counties agreeing to any reforms advocated by the review.
In a club statement about the proposed changes last week, Lancashire said “The decision that will be made later in the year, and ultimately voted for by the first-class counties, will not be a commercial decision. Rather, it will be one based on the development and welfare of our players, which must always be at the forefront of our minds throughout this process.”