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Contract wrangle could spell end of cricket in Suffolk town





Cricket in Newmarket could be coming to an end after local club officials and the town council failed to agree on a new contract for the club’s use of The Severals pitch in the town centre.

Cricket club chairman Frank Stennett said the current agreement with the council, which had been in place for two years, was a rolling contract which allowed the club to look to the future with ongoing investment in pitch improvements and plans for coaching for young players.

“Now the council wants to end that contract and put it on a one year at a time basis which we have had no input into because all their discussions were held in secret at a special meeting of the council held on October 31st,” said Mr Stennett.

The Severals, Newmarket and Newmarket CC’s first league game of 2021 - and first since 2017. Picture by Mark Westley
The Severals, Newmarket and Newmarket CC’s first league game of 2021 - and first since 2017. Picture by Mark Westley

“It’s no use to us because it gives us no security. We can’t afford to continue putting money into the ground and the pitch if we might not have it for more than a year, and no new players or coaches will want to come to us unless there is a future for them to work towards with our young players and children”.

“I was invited to a meeting with the council’s cricket working group but I could not attend because they had banned David Revell, the club secretary, from coming with me and I was not prepared to discuss it without David’s knowledge and expertise.”

“We need to have something in place well before the start of next season and we have been told we would be welcome to talk about a contract for us to use the cricket pitch and facilities at Dullingham, which we are now considering,” said Mr Stennett.

Newmarket CC’s first league game of 2021 - and first since 2017 - sees James Atkinson out LBW. Picture by Mark Westley
Newmarket CC’s first league game of 2021 - and first since 2017 - sees James Atkinson out LBW. Picture by Mark Westley

His colleague, Mr Revell, claimed the working group’s attitude to the club had been that of ‘smiling assassins’.

“They claimed they wanted to carry on having cricket on The Severals, while doing all they could to make it impossible, particularly because they knew our grant from the ECB would stop if we couldn’t show we had a long term and secure contract.

“In all of the two years the club has played at this ground, the working group has never once asked if there was anything they could do to help us. They wouldn’t even advertise our charity match on the council website.

The Start of Newmarkets cricket season on The Severals pitch.
The Start of Newmarkets cricket season on The Severals pitch.

“I firmly believe that the reason the working group has come up with this new contract is because they know we can’t accept it,” said Mr Revell.

In a brief statement, town council clerk Cathy Whitaker said: “Newmarket Town Council has always stated its support for cricket being played on The Severals.

“Newmarket Town Council were looking forward to Newmarket Cricket Club renewing the licence for use of The Severals grounds and sports pavilion facilities for the 2023 cricket season.

“The council is disappointed that the club representatives did not attend the scheduled meeting on October 21 to facilitate this.”