MCC in 'chumocracy' row as outgoing chairman replaced by friend

Christopher Hope
·3-min read
Gerald Corbett, who will be succeeded by Bruce Carnegie-Brown as chairman next year - Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph
Gerald Corbett, who will be succeeded by Bruce Carnegie-Brown as chairman next year - Geoff Pugh for The Telegraph

The chairman of the MCC has denied claims of a "chumocracy" at the home of cricket amid claims that one of his friends was appointed to succeed him.

The Marylebone Cricket Club announced last week that Bruce Carnegie-Brown, who also chairs the insurance giant Lloyd's of London, will be its new chairman from next October, replacing Gerald Corbett.

Although the appointment was made by an independent panel and did not involve Mr Corbett, some members of the world-famous club – which laid down the laws of cricket in 1788 – have reacted badly because Mr Carnegie-Brown also replaced Mr Corbett as the chairman of Moneysupermarket.com in 2014.

Mr Corbett chaired the price comparison company from 2007 to 2014, handing over to Mr Carnegie-Brown, who chaired it until February this year.

One member said on a private internet chat room that the appointment appeared to "perpetuate the chumocracy" at the top of the MCC, which is based at Lord's cricket ground in London.

Another pointed out that the MCC would now be having "consecutive Moneysupermarketing chairmen", and a third added: "The incumbent and future chairman have followed the same path, and presumably were colleagues of friends outside of the club. Perhaps this is an example of the 'tap on the shoulder' from one chairman to another?"

A further member pledged to set aside claims of a "chumocracy" and would instead "judge our new chairman on his merits".

Mr Corbett told The Telegraph: "There is no chumocracy. Bruce was appointed in entirely the right way by an independent panel. It is pure chance. He emerged from a shortlist of 10. The panel concluded he was the strongest candidate. Personal attacks on the committee are not part of our ethic and values at the MCC."

Bruce Carnegie-Brown
Bruce Carnegie-Brown

The club's rules stipulate that the chairman can serve a maximum of two three-year periods. Mr Carnegie-Brown's selection will be subject to the approval by MCC members at the 2021 annual feneral meeting. There are 18,000 full and 5,000 associate members.

An MCC spokesman said that the selection process for the role of chairman – which is not paid – was run by a 11-strong panel led by one of its trustees, Robert Leigh, adding: "The current chairman was not part of this group and at no point was he involved in any part of the selection process."

In the club's announcement last week, Kumar Sangakkara, the MCC president and former captain of the Sri Lanka cricket team, said that "from the many applicants, it became clear that Mr Carnegie-Brown will be an outstanding chairman of the club".

He added: "Along with a life-long passion for cricket, he has a wealth of experience of executive and board-level experience to bring to the role. His experience from various organisations across banking, finance, arts and the charity sector will be of great benefit to everyone at the club."

The MCC was involved in another controversy earlier this year when Chris Waterman, a retired education authority executive, claimed its s hierarchy deliberately set out to scupper his chances when he tried to win a seat on the committee because he did not have the right experience.

Mr Corbett denied the claims at the time, telling Mr Waterman in an email: "We need good behaviours as a prerequisite, we need cricketers, and we need business people.

"There is a reason why in our public companies there are not many teachers, doctors, academics, journalists etc on the boards. They don't typically have the right experience."