Colin Graves expressed his hope that there has been a resolution after his contentious return to Yorkshire was widely accepted at an extraordinary general meeting at Headingley on Friday. He stated, “Let’s focus on the present and the future, rather than dwelling on the past.”
The majority of 88.3% (746 out of 845 votes) approved the resolutions necessary for Graves to regain control. However, only 25% of the club’s 3,500 members participated in the vote. Once the Financial Conduct Authority approves the move, which is anticipated to happen within the next two weeks, the former chairman will rejoin the board.
At the meeting, Steven Vaughan, the CEO of Yorkshire, addressed claims made by Baron Mann that other potential buyers were overlooked. Vaughan called these claims “total falsehoods” and explained that the club had conducted an extensive search for buyers from all over the world, using brokers from every continent. Despite considering multiple options, they have ultimately decided that Colin’s deal is the only viable one to maintain the club’s financial stability.
While searching for potential saviors, various parties, including the owners of multiple Indian Premier League teams, withdrew from negotiations due to the club’s status as a cooperative society. Former Newcastle chairman Mike Ashley almost finalized a deal, with all legal paperwork and communication strategies in place, but ultimately decided to back out at the last minute.
Graves was left after his first offer was turned down because he also requested demutualisation, a decision that must be approved by the members in two separate votes. He then submitted a second bid without mentioning the club’s future status.
Graves stated after the vote that he did not plan on pushing for a change in status, but doing so would allow him to revive negotiations for potential lucrative takeovers with IPL teams. He assured that his actions were not for personal gain, but for the betterment of Yorkshire. He could have chosen to stay at home and relax, but he made the choice to come here and work towards restoring the club to its rightful position.
Graves had previously acted as Yorkshire’s chief executive between 2002 and 2006 and then as chairman until 2015, when he took a similar role at the England and Wales Cricket Board. The club has since admitted that racism and discrimination was a significant issue during much of his 13 previous years at Headingley, which Graves had denied, dismissing instances of abuse within the dressing-room as “banter”. After his takeover was ratified by the board last month he said he “profoundly regrets” using that language.
“I promise that everyone, regardless of their background, community, or ethnicity, will be embraced in a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere at Yorkshire,” Graves stated to members after his return was discussed, while sitting in the front row. “There will be no exceptions. I have already apologized wholeheartedly for any mistakes made by the club or myself during those challenging years in the past. We have learned from those mistakes and will take action to prevent them from happening again. We must all work together to secure Yorkshire’s success, both on and off the field. Today marks a new beginning and a turning point for the club.”
The club’s latest financial statements showed a debt of £14.9m and they required an urgent amount of £500,000 to cover their ongoing loan from the Graves Family Trust. In 2016, Durham received emergency funding from the ECB to avoid going into administration. However, this resulted in them being demoted, receiving additional points deductions, and losing their Test status.
The European Central Bank (ECB) stated on Friday that they did not have any talks about a rescue plan with Yorkshire. Harry Chathli, the club’s departing chairman, explained that the proposal to request a rescue package was dismissed due to the club’s reliance on Test cricket for their business strategy. He added that if they had been granted a Test match this summer, none of this would have occurred.
Chathli stated that they would have had the funds, but did not want to give the impression that the ECB was at fault. The rotation schedule is responsible for this situation and it occurred during a chaotic time, creating a perfect storm.