Lancashire have removed an "inadvertently misleading" statement from Manchester Originals head coach Simon Katich from their website amid fears about the blurring of lines between the the county and the new Hundred team based at Old Trafford.
Katich's 'open letter', written to Lancashire supporters with the intention of encouraging them to attend games in the new competition, claimed that "the Originals are an extension of this great county" and that "the squad…is built around a core group of Red Rose players".
Lancashire share a senior member of coaching staff with the Originals, with the county's head coach Glen Chapple set to work as an assistant to Katich, while four Lancashire players are also in the Originals' squad: Jos Buttler, Matt Parkinson, Saqib Mahmood and Dane Vilas.
Katich also told the Manchester Evening News last week that he "would have liked to have drafted a few more Lancashire boys, but the way the draft panned out a few things didn't go to plan".
Andy Nash, a former ECB board member and an outspoken critic of the Hundred, claimed on Twitter that the letter represented "clear evidence [that the Hundred] elevates the eight hosts and leaves ten counties as bystanders".
The potential for concern is particularly notable in the case of the Manchester team. Every other Hundred team has at least two counties affiliated with it, but Lancashire are the only county linked with the Originals. The overlap in senior members of coaching staff raises the fear that players who impress for Lancashire are more likely to be signed in future drafts, providing players with an added incentive to sign for the county.
An ECB spokesperson reiterated that there is no overlap in the two teams' governance, that Katich is not employed by the club, and that it has introduced safeguards to ensure that no conflict of interests arises. Each new side will be run by a team board with an independent chairman, and regulations have been put in place to make sure contracts with counties and with Hundred teams cannot be linked.
"Lancashire Cricket Club is wholly supportive and committed to the Hundred and the opportunity to attract a new and diverse audience," a spokesperson said.
"The letter was taken down as it was inadvertently misleading. We look forward to hosting Manchester Originals in the same way we're looking forward to hosting England v Pakistan for the Specsavers Test next year and delivering a first class experience here at Emirates Old Trafford."
December 18, 1300 GMT - This article was updated to reflect the fact Mark Chilton will no longer be working for the Originals in the Hundred