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Fatigued and conflicted: the way Yorkshire supporters see the probable comeback of Colin Graves.
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Fatigued and conflicted: the way Yorkshire supporters see the probable comeback of Colin Graves.


It is unusual for people from Yorkshire to hold back their opinions about cricket. However, recent events such as Azeem Rafiq’s exposure of discrimination at Headingley, the unfair firing of 16 employees, the loss of Championship points, and financial struggles have caused a lot of turmoil and emotions. This has led many to refrain from openly discussing the matter.

A new rescuer has appeared, bearing a striking resemblance to the previous rescuer, Colin Graves, who led a rescue effort in 2002 and served as club chair from 2007 to 2015. The club is greatly indebted to Graves and he has once again offered to save the day – with an immediate £1m and an additional £4m over the course of five months – on the condition that members elect him as chair at the EGM at Headingley on Friday morning.

The committee has proposed that members approve the Graves consortium, and indications suggest that the postal votes heavily favor him. However, it is difficult to gauge the sentiment among supporters during this rainy season. The Yorkshire Supporters’ Association has not voiced their opinion. The Sheffield Cricket Lovers’ Society is polite but ultimately declines to comment. Both Yorkshire CCC and Bradford Park Avenue are unavailable. It is understandable that they are unable to provide input.

Some individuals who are willing to speak on the matter are hesitant to reveal their identities due to potential backlash. One person even stepped down from their position and membership following a significant reduction of the coaching staff in December 2021. I believe that Colin Graves should be reinstated because the club’s financial situation leaves us with limited options, and Colin is the most practical solution. He has proven his ability to manage a cricket club and it is possible that the club would not exist without his involvement.

There is no evidence to suggest that Colin was involved in any racist incidents during his time with the company. However, it is important for us to move forward from this issue. Colin is a practical and accomplished businessman who will likely continue to make improvements in areas such as equality, diversity, and community inclusion within the company.

The individual mentioned that Rafiq had expressed regret for sending anti-semitic messages to a fellow player. This apology has been widely acknowledged as heartfelt and genuine. So, why is Colin’s apology for referring to verbal abuse in the locker room as “banter” not given the same level of acceptance?

A previous individual, who has British Asian roots, also wishes to remain anonymous but has a differing opinion on Graves’s comeback. “During the 1980s, Headingley was a refuge for those of us who were brown or black, as Leeds United was not a welcoming place for us. Despite some happy memories, there were instances of racial slurs like the P word and N word, and the Western Terrace was, and possibly still is, discriminatory.”

I believe that Colin Graves is a skilled entrepreneur, however his statement that he has never witnessed any racism at Yorkshire concerns me greatly. Prominent figures such as Michael Holding, Malcolm Marshall, and numerous non-white fans would likely have a contrasting perspective.

“If he is the sole solution, transparency is necessary. Were there really 350 bids? And none of them were feasible? His comeback signifies that Yorkshire is reverting back to its usual ways. I have a deep affection for Yorkshire CC and do not wish for its demise, but the situation is complex.”

Headingley cricket ground

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Many individuals are tired and eager to make progress in a positive manner. Bringing Graves back as chair immediately sends a negative message to the Muslim, Asian, and black communities, as well as many members. If Colin Graves is seen as the solution, what exactly is the problem?

The Wombwell Cricket Lovers’ Society and Northern Cricket Society committee member, James Greenfield, has been a Yorkshire member since 1971. His perspective is practical. “While there have been tumultuous times in Yorkshire cricket’s past, this current crisis is the most alarming.”

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During this period, we were greatly concerned about the possibility of our downfall and having to declare bankruptcy. It appeared that there was no solution, but personally, I never lost faith in Colin Graves’ presence.

“I have never understood the notion of not looking back, despite what others may say. While I do not know Colin Graves very well, his significant investment in Yorkshire CCC suggests that he is a passionate cricket enthusiast. Otherwise, there would likely be more financially beneficial options for him to invest his money in.”

According to Chris Marshall, a long-standing fan and former member, the reappointment of Colin Graves is not beneficial for the business or unity of the club. There is a sense of defeat and many have been convinced that Graves is the best option, which raises questions about the competence of the board. If it is indeed true that they have considered 350 applicants and still believe Graves is the best choice, it reflects poorly on their decision-making abilities. As someone with a strong background in business, I have seen many companies saved at the eleventh hour.

“Yorkshire is comparable to a small fortress, where everyone is preoccupied with protecting the moat rather than addressing issues within the walls. However, it is not logical to believe that bringing back a highly divisive individual will bring about peace. The club will only continue to be divided.”

Friday morning marks the beginning of yet another chapter in this seemingly never-ending internal struggle.

Source: theguardian.com