Ian Watmore stands down as ECB chairman with immediate effect


Chairman leaves role after just over a year in office, Barry O’Brien steps up as interim

Ian Watmore has stood down as chair of the ECB with immediate effect after just over a year in the role.

Watmore, who experienced an almost equally brief period as chief executive of the FA just over a decade ago, is understood to have lost the confidence of the ECB board and the counties after a demanding couple of weeks which has seen England cancel their tour to Pakistan and a failure to agree a domestic schedule for the next couple of years.

The 63-year-old, who has also recently stood down from the position of First Civil Service Commissioner, is understood to be retiring completely. Current ECB Deputy Chair, Barry O’Brien, will step up as interim Chair, but has indicated to the ECB board that he will not be a candidate for the role. Instead a process to find a successor will begin shortly.

Watmore, the first chair to receive a salary for the role (£150,000 a year before expenses), could be forgiven for finding the job very different to the one he expected. His period in office, which officially started on September 1, 2020, has been defined by the battle to stage cricket in a time of Covid and has seen the ECB make relatively large-scale redundancies and suffer serious financial pressures. In a statement released by the ECB, Watmore alludes to some “wellbeing” concerns – he had a heart problem at the time he left the FA and is understood to have been wearied by the unrelenting pressure of his time at the ECB – and admits the demands of the job “taken have a personal toll” on him. It is understood that, when the issue of his future was raised, he was willing to move aside.

While initially popular with the counties, who welcomed his gentle style of management after years of more robust characters such as Giles Clarke and Colin Graves, Watmore appears to have lost their confidence in recent weeks. It is understood that several counties contacted the ECB to express their concerns after a meeting of the county chairs at Lord’s last week in which he was described as somewhat confused. Several present at the meeting described it as “shambolic”. The ECB has also been stung by criticism of the decision to cancel the England tour to Pakistan which was made by the ECB board chaired by Watmore.

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