Thursday, May 30, 2024

AGM 2024 – Cricket Ireland

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DUNDALK – Stella Downes was confirmed as Cricket Ireland’s new President, while three new Directors were approved for the Board of Cricket Ireland amongst a number of motions approved at Cricket Ireland’s Annual General Meeting yesterday.

The AGM started with Chair Brian MacNeice honouring members of the Irish cricket family that passed over the last 12 months, before Cricket Ireland’s Chief Financial Officer, Andrew May, gave a presentation on the 2023 annual financial statements and a breakdown of new investments across the game in the 2024 budget.

Following that, Brian MacNeice updated the Members on a range of projects.

Chair’s address – excerpts
  • About Budget 2024
    • “Cricket Ireland will provide an uplift of €2.35M for Irish cricket in 2024, this is being used to rebalance investment priorities between high performance, grassroots and facilities and infrastructure. A key part of Cricket Ireland’s remit is to focus on ensuring the long-term growth and sustainability of the game – and investment now is crucial.”
    • “In addition, we are also seeking to make our loan repayments to the ICC as expediently as possible, as this will help return Cricket Ireland to a positive cash reserve position over the coming years. This is an important priority for us and is an important safeguard for the sport.”
  • About support for participation, clubs and Provincial Unions
    • “We have ramped up our investment in a number of ways. Our participation programme is one of the main ways we attract new members and players into the game – this is crucial for the sustainability of the game. As such, we have committed an 83% funding increase in participation activities (this is up to €165K) and it covers activities such as education courses, safeguarding, Smash It and It’s Wicket! programmes. This funding will also be complemented by over €400K in government-funded programmes in 2024.”
    • “Provincial Unions are vital to the success of cricket and in particular the grassroots of the game. We have committed an incremental investment uptick of 20% overall (for Cricket Leinster, Northern Cricket Union and North West Cricket Union – to go towards an additional development officer in each province and increased provision for inter-pro coaches – this is to recognise PU’s investment into their Head coaches, so Cricket Ireland has increased funding towards these positions). A bigger allocation for Munster to level things up in terms of staff (two development officers and a full time operations manager) and to help nurture and build on the current cricket being played in the province.”
    • “An allocation has been made to begin the formal process of Connacht Cricket Union’s affiliation with Cricket Ireland – this is investment to support and grow the game in the west in order to grow and nurture cricket in every province.”
    • “We also recognise the staff of Provincial Unions and will additionally pay cost of living increases to staff.”
  • About restoration of the Club Fund
    • “The Club & Community Fund is back for the first time since COVID and there will be a fund of €70K  – in the first year it will focus on small-scale capital projects and other projects at club level (e.g. inclusion programmes, coaching projects). The intention is to grow this fund year-on-year.”
  • About investment in Development Officers
    • “We have funding and budget for a new development officer for each province.”
  • About the uplift for player remuneration
    • “We understand the need to be prudent with financial resources. However, it’s important to consider the broader context. Our players are currently not as well compensated as those from other full member nations. We want to ensure our players are fairly rewarded for their hard work and dedication – balancing where we are financially. By increasing players remuneration as we intend to, and match fees, we are investing in the long-term sustainability of Irish cricket.”
    • “In days gone by we were concerned about Irish players going to play for England. Today the concern is franchise cricket, and we need to be conscious of the challenge it poses to cricket boards and central player contracts.”
  • About the National Stadium
    • “There are many benefits to the proposed national stadium. Financially, it will help drive revenue and save us an awful lot of money in temporary infrastructure every year. Cricket-wise, we will have more control, more access and have more pitches available to host matches. We will also co-locate our indoor and outdoor training facilities at the site.”
    • “It is important, too, to recognise that having a national stadium helps to recognise cricket as a mainstream sport – it gives our sport a home and is commensurate with our status as the world’s second largest sport.”
    • “Where are we at? A Master Plan for the campus has been completed and government has given a green light on design and quantity surveying. Now the business case is before government and we are awaiting a response.”
  • About the YMCA issue
    • “We appreciate how upsetting this has been and the deep disappointment and loss for YMCA members. Myself and a number of Cricket Ireland people undertook advocacy and partnership building behind the scenes to try and support the Club, which was ultimately unsuccessful.”
    • “It is crucial that we, as a sport, do not lose any more grounds. In fact, we need more facilities, more access and more opportunities for cricket to be played across Ireland.”
    • “We will continue to work with clubs and PUs to talk with local authorities across Ireland as part of ongoing efforts to find ways to increase access and facilities.”
Motions passed by the Members

Amongst the motions approved by the voting Members:

  • New President: Stella Downes was unanimously confirmed as Cricket Ireland President, taking over from William Wilson.
  • New Vice President: Donna Armstrong was also unanimously confirmed as Cricket Ireland Vice President, meaning she will replace Stella at next year’s AGM.
  • New Board Directors: Three new Directors were appointed to the Board, being David Richardson (Independent Director), Sukhi Byrne (Munster Cricket representative) and Liam Lynch (Independent Director).
  • Administrative matters: Motions were passed on the Annual Report, language amendments in the Memorandum & Articles of Association (primarily to update titles of regulatory bodies to reflect their current names, and to ensure gender-neutral language), and re-appointment of BDO as the auditors.
The new Board Directors
  • David Richardson spent 17 years at the ICC, including seven as CEO, and left behind sport with greater context, improved gender balance and ready for further growth. During this time he pursued an agenda of inclusion and meritocratic expansion, while maintaining a balance between all three formats of the game. As a former international cricketer of distinction and a lawyer with sports marketing experience, David Richardson brought a unique level of experience and insight to his two senior roles at the ICC. He became the ICC’s first General Manager – Cricket in 2002 and after ten years in that role he became the fourth Chief Executive of the organisation. Cricket Ireland became an ICC Full Member during his tenure as ICC CEO.
  • Sukhi Byrne is Munster Cricket’s nominee to the Board. A former solicitor with over 15 years in the corporate sector, she is currently a Mindfulness Coach running her own business. Sukhi is also a graduate of Cricket Ireland’s “On the Front Foot” women’s leadership programme and is the first graduate from that programme to become a Board member. Sukhi has also played an active role in growing the game in Munster and working in youth cricket in the province. Her knowledge and passion for growing the game will be an asset to the Board as we focus on the extension of our participation programmes.
  • Liam Lynch is a Chartered Accountant, with over 30 years experience. He is currently the Head of Financial Services Tax and Head of Private Clients at KPMG Ireland. He has held significant roles, such as: President Chartered Accountants Ireland, Council Member, Chartered Accountants Ireland, Chair of Finance Board, Chair of Tax Committee, Combined Committee of Accounting Bodies in Ireland and Chair of TALC (with Revenue, tax, legal and accounting liaison), Chair, Ireland India Business Association, Chair, Advisory group for Common Purpose Ireland. He is currently a Member of the Implementation Group for Government Philanthropy Policy.

The meeting concluded with speeches from the outgoing and incoming Presidents, William Wilson and Stella Downes respectively – as well as the ceremonial handover of the role.

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