SOMERSET Chief Executive Lee Cooper has announced the club are preparing to take legal action against the ECB should they reverse the decision to dock Middlesex points.

Speaking at a members' lunch which was streamed live on Facebook, Cooper spoke openly about a range of issues including the ongoing appeal process, international cricket in Taunton and Adam Hose's departure, which he admitted was the fault of the club rather than the player.

On Middlesex's appeal, he said: "The implications of overturning the decision are significant – we’d be relegated. Having fought so hard at the end of the season, that would be an unfair outcome.

"The original decision was made and tactics were determined by what we needed to do to survive.

"One example is the last game – if we needed two extra points we would have had different tactics, such as going on to score 300.

"As it was, we prepared a result wicket, won the game, achieved the necessary points and survived. If they now change that decision, they have brought the game into disrepute.

"We have had conversations with the ECB. Those conversations started with them saying ‘they have no right of appeal’ and that was quite conclusive. Since then an appeal process is underway, which is a contradiction.

"We have reassurances, but not guarantees, that we have nothing to worry about, but considering what has already happened we are not trusting that.

"We are left with a decision – we either trust that we’ll be ok or we issue legal action against the ECB. If they overturn their decision, we do the latter, the case goes to the high court and is deferred until 2019."

A club statement later confirmed the club's intention to pursue legal action should the points deduction be reversed. 

Cooper went on to express his hope for further international cricket in Taunton - which hosted its first England game for 34 years in June this year - with the club needing to apply for matches by December 18 and then present their case in mid-January.

"We will be bidding for international cricket and a T20 franchise between 2020-2024," he said.

"Any ground improvements [which include floodlights and a new stand by the old scoreboard] will not be to the detriment of Somerset County Cricket Club - we will not compromise our unique ground."

The conversation quickly moved back to on-field matters, and Cooper addressed in detail the issues which were present when he arrived at the club in August.

"I came to the club with perception of what may be happening," he said.

"I had heard the same rumours about dressing room unrest and the culture was being questioned.

"We are supposed to have annual review anyway, and I felt as my first undertaking it was important to do.

"The first component was an interview between myself and all contracted players and staff, where I asked them what works well and what could be improved.

"A resounding theme was changes needed to take place - these were relating to structure, not personnel.

"The ECB recommended Matt Prior and James Taylor to carry out a review – we interviewed both and commissioned James Taylor, whose remit was to understand culture of club without going into performance, which was academic to those answers. Finishing second last year papered over some cracks.

"Universally, the theme was need to change structure – having one individual responsible for everything cricket related was a big task.

"The proof in the pudding was Adam Hose scenario – his departure was our fault, not Adam’s. We had a 28-day notice period and we didn’t speak to him. That’s a capacity issue.

"We also didn’t have an overseas player for the end of the season – as it turned out, that didn’t matter, but it might have done.

"Matt’s services were suitable for the head coach role, but the dynamics of bringing someone in above him could have brought issues. We parted company amicably and he leaves as a friend of the club."

On coaching, Cooper said the club will not appoint a batting coach this season, instead relying on consultants in the likely event Marcus Trescothick will take the job once his playing career is over - Chris Rogers will not be returning.

The questions then moved on to the pitch, which was marked 'below average' and led to Middlesex protestations after the final game of the season - including Angus Fraser labelling Somerset 'a disgrace'.

Cooper said: "We were marked ‘below average’ as it turned excessively on days one and two, as it has done in previous games, so there is an inconsistency there.

"The issue now is that if we receive a similar mark next season, we have problems.

"There’s a wider issue for us rather than the game – we won’t be playing on spinning wickets next year as there are unintended consequences of doing so.

"If you’re a batter, do you want to play your cricket here when first innings is 200 v 200? Probably not. If you’re a seamer, do you want to bowl on a wicket where spinners are opening the bowling? Probably not. And if you’re Jack Leach, do you want to play on wickets where your wickets are discounted?

"Recruitment has become very difficult – overseas batsmen want to average 60, not 28, so they don’t want to come here at the moment."

An overseas player will also be vital in the T20 tournament next year, as Somerset had to play the majority of last season's tournament without one after the departure of the injured Corey Anderson.

While recognising there are mixed views on the format, particularly regarding the new tournament from 2020, Cooper pressed the importance of the revenue it will provide and cited a recent example of why it will be needed.

"The Overtons have negotiated their contracts – we had to pay them more to secure their future and reaffirm our ambition as a club to win trophies.

"Dom Bess is another player we want to retain and his contract is up next year – I bet another county would quadruple what he’s currently getting paid, so we have to be able to compete."

A member then wanted to know what Somerset will be doing to improve their traditionally slow starts to seasons, to which Cooper replied: "Matt Maynard and I were talking about it – he presented me with a lovely plan involving going to Barbados and playing in a domestic 50-over competition.

"It sounded like a jolly to me, so I reflected on it and said no. The best way to prepare for playing cricket in England is by playing cricket in England.

"We will put a marquee on the square which will replicate the conditions at the start of an English season. We are also looking at more competitive friendly cricket in pre-season."

In summary, he said: "I have had many letters, and the passion of our support shines through. What’s clear is that you have been deprived of success.

"Success isn’t surviving relegation – that’s failure, as we shouldn’t have been there in the first place. Success isn’t coming second in the County Championship or finishing as runners-up in the one-day competitions.

"The only success we will celebrate moving forward is winning. We have the third-highest playing budget in the country, so we can’t say we don’t recruit the best players.

"We are the best supported county and have great facilities here, so why aren’t we winning? We will change until we win, and that is my only purpose of being here.

"It’s a cricket club, and that’s the only thing that matters. All competitions are equally important and we will start every season trying to win all three of them."