Under-fire BCB president Smith facing revolt
Lloyd Smith's future as president of the Bermuda Cricket Board has been thrown into jeopardy after his entire executive committee jumped ship, leaving he and executive director Cal Blankendal effectively as the last men standing at the heart of the national sport.
At a special meeting convened at Warwick Workmen's Club on Thursday night, The Royal Gazette understands that Smith was charged with inappropriate use of the corporate credit card.
Against the wishes of his executive committee, Smith forged ahead with retaining the services of former West Indies Test captain Jimmy Adams, in his capacity as the Cricket West Indies director of cricket, as guest speaker for the board's end-of-season awards night on November 9 — and used his BCB-issued credit card to do so.
This the executive committee deemed in breach of the Financial Management Policy, in breach of the Code of Conduct and borderline “theft”. The group had earlier determined that, with the board's degree of indebtedness brought on by the Bermuda team's international commitments in 2019, it was not fiscally prudent to engage Adams.
The president, determined to attract someone of Adams's profile, ultimately disclosed that a “friend of cricket” would get him on island instead, which he revealed weeks later would be himself.
Smith's falling-out with his executive over this matter is believed to be at the heart of the originally scheduled annual meeting on December 12 lasting only five minutes so that a special meeting could be called to find resolution.
However, the clubs at that meeting this week voted 6-4 with two abstentions against a motion to censure the president, resulting in a mass exodus that included first vice-president Mishael Paynter, treasurer Moses Mufandaedza, and club representatives Clay Smith, Michael Stovel and Kellie Smith.
Lorenzo Tucker, the assistant secretary/treasurer, formalised his resignation in writing yesterday.
The one executive member whose status is uncertain is second vice-president Paul Ross, who is said to have been a fleeting presence in recent months.
When contacted by The Royal Gazette yesterday, Blankendal said: “During the initial AGM of 2019, the president had brought a matter before the member clubs and at that time the member clubs had voted to have this matter dealt with separately aside from the AGM.
“It was indicated that a special general meeting should be held to discuss this subject matter.
“The subject matter was dealt with last night in a very democratic process.
“Both the president and the executive members who were bringing this matter to the membership were able to present their cases and, after much debate, a motion was made and the motion was supported in favour of the president.
“After the motion was passed, various executive members at that time indicated that they would no longer continue to serve. Out of that number, there were at least five whose positions will be up for re-election. This is a natural course for re-election as per the constitution next week.”
The monies allegedly used on the card totalled $3,146.78, including $191.69 for hotel accommodation in New York, $440.65 for air travel from Antigua to Bermuda, $1,371.78 for air travel back to Antigua via London, England, $601 for undisclosed purchases from Sports ‘R' Us and Island Shop, and $241.66 for undisclosed accommodation. (The Sports ‘R' Us purchase worth $436 was later verified).
Smith is believed to have repaid the funds by December 13, but adverse opinion had already been formed among his executive, which viewed the transactions as an unapproved loan from the BCB for a period of approximately two months.
The writing was on the wall that all was not well in Smith's presidency, which has been termed as authoritarian throughout, as early as May 2018 with the departure of Gerson Gibbons as treasurer, which was followed five months later by the resignations of Neil Speight as chief executive and Nyon Steede as first vice-president.
On no occasion has there been any public fallout, but the loss of Cheryl-Ann Mapp as secretary on the afternoon of the ill-fated AGM on December 12 came with a stinging condemnation of Smith.
“Recent events have transpired with the leadership of the BCB which have caused me to to be very concerned for the reputation and integrity of this organisation, as detailed in a previous e-mail to you,” she said in a letter addressed to the BCB executive and staff that has been shared with The Royal Gazette.
She added: “I was first asked to serve about nine years ago and I did so for my passion for cricket and as a means to contribute my professional expertise to the enhancement of this organisation. During this time, the BCB has obtained and retained its status as a charity with the NSC designation, which indicates its policies, procedures, financial integrity and governance reflect best practice. Not only has the president displayed a total lack of respect for fellow executive members, but he has conducted himself in a manner which brings the organisation into disrepute.
“My personal and professional ethics and integrity no longer permit me to be associated with an entity run in the current manner by this president. This organisation deserves people who are honest, not self-serving, who are inclusive, transparent and fiscally prudent.”
Tucker, although less stinging, hit on a pattern that has developed since Smith replaced Lloyd Fray as president in November 2017, with 13 executive members in total having resigned their positions.
“I have enjoyed my time serving on the BCB executive and I thank the board for the opportunities and exposure it has provided me to enhance my passion for the sport of cricket,” he wrote yesterday, also in a missive shared with The Royal Gazette.
“However, in lieu of the recent events that have transpired over the last few months, I am not confident in the direction Bermuda cricket is heading.”
Tucker, by strange coincidence with the course the BCB put on last week, is the island's only cricket analyst and was recently backroom staff for two tours to the Middle East where Bermuda came away with a combined ten defeats and one no result from 11 matches.
Those engagements included successive suspensions for Deunte Darrell and a notorious Mankading incident involving Onias Bascome, but all along a bigger storm was brewing back at home.
Tucker added in his letter: “Clearly there are major issues within an organisation when they experience a high volume of resignations in such a short period. I hope the new executive members elected next week stem the flow and put in quality work. There are many challenges that lie ahead.”
The rescheduled AGM will take place at Warwick Workmen's Club on Thursday starting at 6pm.
Attempts to reach Smith for comment were unsuccessful.
• Additional reporting by Colin Thompson