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Colin Graves expresses regret for racism at Yorkshire following approval of takeover.
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Colin Graves expresses regret for racism at Yorkshire following approval of takeover.

Colin Graves expressed a personal and sincere apology to those who have experienced racism at Yorkshire. He deeply regrets his previous description of dressing room abuse as banter, acknowledging that it may have come across as dismissive or uncaring to some. The board officially approved Graves’ return to Headingley on Wednesday evening as expected.

The approval of his acquisition will be determined by a vote from members at a special general meeting scheduled for February 2nd. Members will also be requested to approve a modification to the club’s regulations that would permit Graves to rejoin the board. Six out of the club’s ten board members have agreed to resign by that date, and the two member representatives have also been asked to leave.

There is uncertainty surrounding the future of Yorkshire as a members’ club. This is due to the fact that the board terminated talks with numerous potential investors, including several IPL teams, who were not willing to operate within the existing structure. However, they did not ask for or receive any confirmation from Graves that he had no intention of pursuing demutualisation. According to Vaughan, it is impossible to rule out any possibilities in this situation and it is up to Colin and his leadership team to decide their course of action in the future. However, there is no information indicating that demutualisation is on the horizon.

A 75% majority of members must agree to any potential action.

The departing chairman, Harry Chathli, stated that Graves’ proposal is the only feasible solution to ensure the club’s financial stability at this time. Graves will offer an unsecured loan of £1m with an interest rate of 4.8% above the Bank of England base rate, which amounts to 10.05%. He has also pledged to secure additional investment of £4m. However, members were cautioned that the acquisition of this investment is dependent on the new board and there is no binding agreement to provide it or disclose its source. Additionally, there is a possibility that the timing and amount of the investment may not be sufficient to cover the club’s debts.

An aerial view of the Headingley Stadium complex, home of Leeds Rhinos and Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

Graves, who was heavily involved in Yorkshire from 2002 and served as chair between 2007 and 2015, had never previously accepted that ­racism was an issue during his time at the club. In one television interview last year he admitted there may have been the “odd occasion” when problematic language was used in the dressing room, but said he thought “there could have been a lot of banter in there about it”. On Thursday however, he struck a much more ­conciliatory tone.

Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a renowned organization in the field of sports in the country and has achieved great success in the world of cricket. He stated that he believes the club has a bright future ahead, but it is important to recognize and address any past errors.

“I offer my sincere and wholehearted apologies to anyone who has faced racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We will never condone or tolerate discrimination or mistreatment based on race, ethnicity, or any other protected characteristic.”

I am deeply sorry for the words I used when questioned about the incidents that occurred during my time as chairman, after I had already left the club. I acknowledge and empathize with those who found my statements to be insensitive or indifferent.

I am committed to doing whatever is necessary to ensure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club accurately reflects the communities it represents. The club cannot achieve success unless it is united in its dedication to upholding the highest professional standards, both on and off the field. I want to emphasize that we fully acknowledge the results of the report conducted by the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC) and its suggested actions. If I am appointed as chairman, the efforts towards promoting equality, diversity, and inclusion that have been ongoing for the past two years will persist.

Graves’ fresh strategy and reasoning behind it were met with skepticism from numerous individuals. Azeem Rafiq, whose previous accounts of mistreatment at Yorkshire were dismissed by Graves, expressed disappointment over the suggested acquisition: “It’s truly disheartening. It sends a clear message that myself and others of color and South Asian descent are not welcome in cricket and that those in charge of the sport do not want us to be involved.”

I woke up to a flood of hateful comments, which only encourages people to express their racism more openly. The situation we find ourselves in is a disgrace. The cricket community, including the game, governing body, and sponsors, should all be ashamed of themselves.

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Azeem Rafiq arrives for the CDC panel hearing at the International Arbitration Centre, London, in March 2023

The England and Wales Cricket Board has acknowledged the recent statement from Yorkshire CCC and acknowledges that they have determined this proposal to be their only feasible solution to address the club’s current situation and ensure its long-term stability.

Significant efforts have been made in Yorkshire and throughout the cricket community in recent times to address discrimination and promote inclusivity in the sport. It is crucial that these efforts continue.

“We appreciate Colin Graves’ dedication to carrying on with this initiative, his sincere apology, and acknowledgement of the findings from the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket. These statements must be followed through with actions if Yorkshire members approve of this agreement.”

Sanjay Patel and Sanjeev Gandhi, who collaborated with Graves during his tenure as ECB chair from 2015 to 2020, will be selected as non-executive directors pending approval from members. Philip Hodson, a businessman and former Cambridge University cricketer, will serve as deputy chairman.

Caroline Dinenage, a member of parliament and chair of the committee responsible for culture, media, and sport, has scheduled a meeting next month for Yorkshire Cricket Club’s chairman, Ian Graves, to provide testimony. Dinenage expressed concern over the mistreatment of Azeem Rafiq by Yorkshire CCC and the prevalence of racism, classism, sexism, and misogyny in the sport. She also acknowledged the potential for change with the release of the ICEC’s report last year and commended the ECB for taking steps towards addressing these issues.

The potential return of Colin Graves to Yorkshire and English cricket may hinder the progress that has been made thus far. If the club is truly dedicated to improving its reputation and financial state, both Mr. Graves and the club must fully acknowledge and address the findings of the ICEC. The culture, media, and sport committee will closely monitor the developments of this deal to ensure that the dark history of Yorkshire CCC does not repeat itself.

Source: theguardian.com