Aaron Banks facing backlash over Gloucestershire ‘Glexit’ takeover after damning letter to members

Aaron Banks outside the High Court in 2022
Aaron Banks met 130 Gloucestershire members at his house on Tuesday - Telegraph/Eddie Mulholland

Arron Banks, the businessman and prominent Brexit supporter, is facing a backlash over his takeover bid at Gloucestershire County Cricket Club after he sent an open letter to members outlining his plans which would see him appointed as deputy chairman.

Around 130 members attended a meeting at Banks’ house in Old Down, South Gloucestershire, on Tuesday night. Banks then wrote to them detailing his proposals for the club, which has recorded net losses of £1.7 million over the last two years, including £1.2 million last year. These included:

  • The entire board being removed except David Graveney, who would be deputy chairman

  • Banks becoming deputy chairman with Nigel Birrell, a director of the gaming business BWIN, becoming chairman

  • Reducing the number of board members from 13 to eight

“The club is in managed declined with the ultimate destination, a loss of first-class status or worse,” warned Banks, who is calling his project ‘Glexit.’

But county members who attended the meeting described Banks’ vision as “underwhelming”. They will meet next week to discuss his proposals further.

Graveney said on Thursday that he supports the current board and is “fully committed” to its plans.

John Gordon, a long-time supporter who is on the members working group at Gloucestershire, which represents members’ views, said on Thursday: “The responses I have had on Facebook and WhatsApp groups have been 100 per cent anti-Banks and very concerned about his attitude, tactics, possible hidden agenda and reputational risk to the club. It is very dangerous.”

“He thinks he can walk all over the ECB [England and Wales Cricket Board] but they control the money and allocation of ODIs which are crucial to the club.”

Banks, has met senior club officials, including outgoing chief executive Will Brown and put himself forward as a man to address the club’s crisis.

The businessman wants to build a new ground, featuring hotel and conferencing facilities - a concept that Gloucestershire are already exploring, Banks has also outlined his hopes that the club will win the County Championship and host Test cricket. He is a long-time supporter of the county, and is chairman of local Thornbury Cricket Club. Companies he has owned have sponsored the club.‌

“The resolution will be out next week, and we look forward to people either supporting it or rejecting,” Banks added in his letter. “One important question asked at the meeting was why not engage with the board and join the process. My view is that the people that presided over the mess and £1.2 million loss aren’t the people to fix it.

“The club are holding a meeting on the 18th June at 7pm, and I would urge everyone to attend. As a member I will be attending.”

Graveney, the former Gloucestershire player and England national selector, swiftly distanced himself from the plans. In a statement released by Gloucestershire, he said:

“It’s come to my attention that I have been mentioned in dispatches as a potential Deputy Chair in a new board structure as proposed by Arron Banks. Whilst it is always nice to be considered for this sort of office I am very clear in that I am fully committed to the current Executive Board and the plans we continue to evolve for the future.

“We have started a process to recruit new board members through a fair, open and democratic process and it is essential that this is allowed to run its course in the correct manner.”