Kent call in lawyers as relegation row rumbles on

County side believe foul play is at work over promotion issue

Gulf News

London: The bitter post-season argument as to which teams should be in the First and Second Divisions of next year’s English County Championship continued Thursday as it emerged Kent had called in lawyers to press their bid for a place in the top flight.

All counties knew before the start of the 2016 campaign that, for one season only in order to achieve a new structure, just one team would be promoted from the Second Division — with two relegated as usual.

Come the end of the season, second-bottom Hampshire and basement club Nottinghamshire were demoted, with Second Division winners Essex going up.

However, more than two weeks after the end of the season, the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) announced earlier this month that cash-strapped north-east county Durham would be relegated instead of Hampshire as a condition of a 3.8 million pounds (Dh17 million) financial aid package from the governing body.

Kent, runners-up to Essex, soon challenged that decision, with George Kennedy, the Canterbury-based club’s chairman, labelling it “plain wrong”.

Kennedy confirmed Thursday a report in The Times saying Kent’s lawyers had written to ECB chairman Colin Graves protesting against a decision which the newspaper quoted the county as saying was “prejudiced, perverse and contrary to natural justice”.

“We have [sent the letter] — they would have received it yesterday [Wednesday],” Kennedy said.

“We have asked for arbitration in the situation, and we’ll see what comes of that.”

Among the points at issue are suggestions that Durham knew as early as May they would be relegated and that all counties were aware of what would happen in the event a club had to be bailed out by the ECB.

“Last week’s decision to relegate Durham — with Hampshire remaining in the First Division of the Specsavers County Championship — was in line with the two-down, one-up relegation and promotion rules for this season’s county championship which were notified to all counties and published prior to the start of the 2016 season,” said a Board spokesperson.

“We are currently considering our response to Kent’s letter and will reply to them in due course.”

Durham, meanwhile, responded to The Times report by insisting: “Contrary to today’s press report, Durham County Cricket Club can confirm that they were not told in May that the club would be relegated at the end of the season.”

SPORT PICTURE OF THE DAY: Monday, October 24

England's players celebrate after beating Bangladesh during the final day's play of the first Test cricket match at Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Cricket Stadium in Chittagong on October 24, 2016. AFP