Middlesex are embroiled in an extraordinary dispute with former chief executive Richard Goatley involving demands that he pay them tens of thousands of pounds which is set to trigger an investigation from the ECB.
The club claim to have discovered evidence of Goatley misappropriating Middlesex funds after he resigned due to ill health in 2021, but he strongly denies any wrongdoing and is not facing formal legal proceedings.
Goatley’s family have complained to the ECB about Middlesex’s alleged conduct claiming they have felt threatened by the club’s approach to the matter.
In addition to making regular demands for varying sums of money Middlesex also proposed acquiring an interest in Goatley’s parents home last year. Earlier this year the family also received what appeared to be a draft press release, purporting to be from the club, outlining the allegations against Goatley which they interpreted as threatening.
ECB sources have confirmed to Mail Sport that they have had two meetings with the Goatley’s and have pledged to investigate. ‘We cannot comment on a specific case, but all complaints that come to the ECB are properly dealt with,’ the ECB said in a statement.
Middlesex have demanded Richard Goatley pays them hundreds of thousands of pounds over alleged misappropriate funds, allegations the former chief executive denies
Goatley’s wife has claimed Middlesex’s behaviour has been ‘at odds with the values of cricket’
‘What Middlesex has done to us has been a form of hell’ Goatley’s wife, Lucy Ayliffe, told Mail Sport. ‘Their behaviour is at odds with the values of cricket.
‘They have made demands for life ruining sums of money. Who would agree to pay tens of thousands of pounds without being shown why it was owed? It feels like Richard has been assumed guilty without being shown any evidence and not given the opportunity to clear his name. We have turned to the ECB for help because what has happened to us.’
The Goatley family chose to speak out after Middlesex made elements of the dispute public last month. In a press release published on the club’s website on 27 September Middlesex stated ‘there are on-going legal proceedings between the club and its former CEO Richard Goatley,’ a claim the club amended the following day after receiving complaints from the family’s lawyers, Cole Khan Solicitors.
‘There are no formal legal proceedings or letters before action’ Cole Khan confirmed in a statement to Mail Sport. ‘We are awaiting a response to our calls to resolve this amicably.’
The extraordinary saga began when Goatley suffered a stroke whilst in a Middlesex meeting in April 2021, which led to the club announcing his resignation three months later. The family claim Middlesex only paid Goatley part of Richard’s severance package.
In September 2021 Middlesex wrote to him claiming he owed them tens of thousands of pounds. The extraordinary affair has, according to the family, led them to spiral into debt and a repossession order being placed on their own home.
After the initial demands for money Ayliffe received an email in December 2021 from Middlesex chairman, Mike O’Farrell, stating the matter had been resolved, but the legal letters returned the following year. In November last year, Middlesex wrote to Goatley’s father, David, suggesting that a means of settling the case might be to acquire an interest in the family’s home.
In August this year a blank email appears to have been sent from Middlesex to Goatley. The email contained an attachment titled GOATLEY MEMBERS STATEMENT AJC – the initials of chief executive Andrew John Cornish and gave the impression of being a draft press release.
Middlesex chief executive Andrew Cornish, who succeeded Goatley in July 2021, sees the funny side after being sacked by Somerset in 2019
The attachment alleged that Middlesex had discovered irregular payments made from their bank accounts to a joint account in the name of Goatley and his wife.
O’Farrell has denied sending the press release, which was not dated and led the family to feel it could be published at any time.
Cornish joined Middlesex as a consultant in September 2020 12 months after he was sacked by Somerset, before replacing Goatley as chief executive in July 2021.
Middlesex declined to comment when contacted by Mail Sport, but sources at the club insist Goatley was treated fairly following his resignation. The club also claim that they have tried to reach an amicable settlement, but will now pursue the matter through the courts.