Don Amott has walked out on Derbyshire after five years as chairman following a row over budget cuts. With less than three weeks to go before the start of a new season, there could hardly have been a worse time for the county to have been plunged into a new crisis.
Amott’s resignation, as chairman and as a member of the general committee, means Derbyshire have lost the man who spearheaded a period of stability at the smallest of the 18 first-class counties as well as one of their major financial backers in terms of sponsorship and a series of interest-free loans.
The timing of his decision came as a shock but follows months of uneasy peace between Amott and the club’s three other officers – vice-chairman Phil Kirby, honorary secretary David Griffin and honorary treasurer Malcolm Nicholas.
In the wake of this year’s financial loss of £187,000, which followed four years of profit, Kirby, Griffin and Nicholas wanted to press ahead with a new wave of economies and Amott thought the plans were an over-reaction.
Amott also argued for a new contract immediately for head of cricket John Morris, in the last year of his current deal, and the rest wanted to wait to see if a poor 2010 was just a one-off. After losing the vote three to one, Amott decided he has had enough.
“They wanted me to rubber-stamp their plans for the future of the club but I won’t do that,” he said. “I am a man of principle and if I don’t agree with something I won’t rubber-stamp it. They want to take the club in a different direction. I cannot work with them any more, so I’m going.
“We have had one bad year at Derbyshire and all of a sudden it’s all about cost this and cost that and I don’t agree with it. It’s very sad that all these years of being chairman and supporting the club as a sponsor has come to an end. My involvement in sport for the last 20 years and my success as a businessman doesn’t mean anything.
“I don’t deserve this. I’ve had a hard time with my health and my wife has had cancer and I don’t need this.”
An emergency committee meeting is to be called and the club has to face its members at the AGM on March 30. Vice-chairman Kirby would be the logical choice to take over from Amott and said the former chairman was unrealistic in his resistance to making economies.
“We had got to the point, with the financial result we have had, that we cannot carry on the way we have,” he said. “It’s not unique to us but we are on the back of a horrendous financial result and we have to look at ways of improving things.
“If you are not open to that, you cannot walk away from it, hope that things get better and risk the future of Derbyshire cricket.”
Kirby also denied that there is a lack confidence in Morris or that they are going to give him even less money next year after cutting his playing budget by a tenth for this season.
“I don’t see any reason why John Morris should not continue to be coach of this club for a long time in the future,” he added. “All three officers recognise that we need to get more money into the playing budget to give John a better chance of success.
“We needed to look at costs all the way through the club and Don has jumped to conclusions. This is not entirely unexpected. Sometimes, if things are not going the way he wants, Don doesn’t like it.”