The MP believes that if Graves were to come back to the Yorkshire cricket club, it would be a disastrous decision.
A member of the culture, media and sport select committee has expressed concern over the potential return of Colin Graves to Yorkshire, stating that it would be a “disaster” if the cricket authorities approved it. The 75-year-old is reportedly in discussions with the club about coming back, after negotiations with previous Newcastle owner Mike Ashley for a potential investment fell through.
From 2012 to 2015, Graves was the chair of Yorkshire. This was a 17-year stretch from 2004 to 2021 where the club has acknowledged a charge from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for not addressing the widespread use of racist or discriminatory language.
Clive Efford, who is a part of the CMS committee, listened to distressing statements from ex-Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq in November 2021 regarding the racism he faced. He strongly advised the ECB to take action. He expressed concern that if the ECB allows this to occur, it would be a backward move and have negative consequences for cricket. He previously supported the decision to not remove Yorkshire from hosting the Ashes Test match, believing that they had made significant progress and were committed to improving. However, he now realizes that this was a mistake on his part.
The ECB revoked Yorkshire’s privilege of hosting profitable international games at Headingley due to their mishandling of Rafiq’s situation. They only reinstated it after significant modifications were made at the board level.
A group that includes Graves has agreed to a time period of exclusivity with Yorkshire to negotiate its offer, which is believed to expire on Friday. Yorkshire is reportedly in urgent need of a cash injection to cover operational expenses.
The club’s main creditor, the Graves Trust, is owed £14.9m. At a special meeting in September, the chief executive, Stephen Vaughan, informed members that an agreement had been reached to postpone repayment until 2025.
Robin Smith, a former Yorkshire chair, expressed his confidence in the proposal put forth by Colin Graves’ consortium. Smith noted that the individuals involved have integrity and relevant experience, making them well-suited to restore confidence among Yorkshire members and the public. Smith believes the proposal deserves support and is confident it will receive it.
The ECB chose not to address the potential for Graves to come back to Yorkshire, but expressed disapproval of statements he made during an interview with Sky Sports in June of last year. Graves, who previously served as ECB chair from 2015 to 2020, stated that he never encountered any instances of racism during his tenure at the club and was never informed of any issues regarding it.
He stated that there have been instances where regrettable words were spoken. He does not believe they were intentionally racist or malicious. Rather, he believes there was a lot of joking around and playful teasing involved, which may not be well-received by everyone.
On Thursday, Yorkshire chose not to address Efford’s remarks.