Ian Watmore to take over as ECB chairman in August after investigation finds ‘no wrongdoing’

The England and Wales Cricket Board have confirmed Ian Watmore will be appointed chairman when the current incumbent Colin Graves steps down at the end of August.

The news comes after the ECB were forced to review their decision in February to appoint Watmore to the role after an investigation by the Daily Mail found that the English Football League – the 61 year old’s previous employers – had begun an inquiry into claims he was involved in talks leading to EFL clubs threatening a breakaway league,  a week before Watmore’s departure from his role as non-executive director in November 2018. Such a move would have jeopardised a £595m broadcast deal with Sky. At the time, Watmore resigned because of ill health.

However, the review undertaken by a sub-committee of directors comprising Barry O’Brien, Katie Bickerstaffe and Martin Darlow, which included a review of the report referenced by the Mail, it was unanimously agreed that “there was no evidence to support any allegation of wrongdoing on Ian Watmore’s part”. The board now consider the matter closed.

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At a board meeting on Wednesday, the ECB unanimously endorsed his appointment as chair elect which will be ratified at the AGM which will take place at the end of May.

Watmore will take up his post earlier than his expected start of December as Graves has chosen to step down early, in part because of the delay of The Hundred to 2021. It will bring to end a polarising tenure which was originally extended to oversee the implementation fo the ECB’s new competition.

Commenting on his decision, Colin Graves said: “With the launch of The Hundred unavoidably moved to 2021, I have reviewed last year’s extension of my term as Chair, and put a request to the Board to now finish early, on 31 August.

“It feels important to both the game and the ECB Board, to allow Ian Watmore to commence his role earlier than originally agreed. I have no doubt that his wealth of experience in sport, business and government will be invaluable as we navigate through this crisis

“I have been extremely heartened by how cricket has come together in these recent, unimaginable times. There remains a long road ahead, but I have immense confidence in the excellent leadership of Tom Harrison, our Executive Management Team and the ECB Board as they shape the direction of our response to Covid-19.

“It has been a privilege to work with so many passionate people across the game who are driven by their belief in cricket’s power to improve lives and connect communities.”

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