Colin Graves apologizes for racism in Yorkshire after takeover approved

<span>Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ df72a20db” data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ a20db”/></div>
<p><figcaption class=Photograph: Mike Egerton/PA

Colin Graves apologized “personally and unreservedly” to victims of racism in Yorkshire, and said he “deeply regrets” describing dressing room abuse as “banter” – language he now accepts is considered “dismissive or indifferent” by some – after of his long-awaited return. to Headingley was ratified by the board on Wednesday.

The acquisition of Graves is subject to a vote by members at an extraordinary general meeting called for Friday, February 2. Members will also be asked to ratify a change in club rules to allow Graves to return to the board. Six of the club’s 10 current board members have pledged to resign by that date, and its two membership representatives have also been asked to leave.

But there is confusion over Yorkshire’s future as a members’ club, after it emerged that although the board broke off negotiations with what chief executive Stephen Vaughan described as “lots and lots” of potential investors, including ” many IPL teams,” who were unwilling to work in such a structure, neither sought nor received any assurance from Graves that he was not planning to push for demutualization. “You can never say never in these circumstances and what Colin and his leadership team do in the future is entirely up to them,” Vaughan said, “but there is no knowledge that that will be the case.” Any such measure would have to be agreed by members with a 75% majority.

Outgoing chairman Harry Chathli described Graves’ bid as “the only viable option to secure the club’s financial future at this time”. Graves will provide an unsecured loan of £1m – which reportedly carries an interest rate of 4.8% above the Bank of England’s base rate, which would currently be 10.05% – and has promised find more £4m investments. But members were warned that “obtaining new investment is up to the new board and there is no binding commitment to provide it or information on the sources of these funds,” and in any case that “the timing of receipt and amount of those funds” The investment may not be sufficient to cover the club’s obligations.”

Graves, who has been heavily involved in Yorkshire since 2002 and was president between 2007 and 2015, had never before accepted that racism was an issue during his time at the club. In a television interview last year, he admitted there may have been a “strange occasion” where problematic language was used in the locker room, but said he thought “there might have been a lot of jokes about it.” However, on Thursday he took a much more conciliatory tone.

“Yorkshire CCC is one of the country’s most illustrious sporting institutions and one of the most successful clubs in world cricket,” he said. “I believe his best days are yet to come… But past mistakes must be acknowledged and acted upon.”

Related: Moral and financial failure in Yorkshire will allow Colin Graves to walk back through the door | Azeem Rafiq

“I personally and unreservedly apologize to anyone who has experienced any form of racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club. Discrimination or abuse based on race, ethnicity or any other protected characteristic is not and will never be acceptable. I deeply regret the language I used when I was asked about the events that occurred when I was president, at a time when I was no longer at the club. “I understand and sympathize with those who considered my comments as derogatory or indifferent.”

“I am determined to do whatever is necessary to ensure Yorkshire County Cricket Club continues to reflect the communities it represents. The club cannot and will not succeed unless it is united in its commitment to achieving the highest professional standards, on and off the field. I want to make it clear that we accept the conclusions of the report by the Independent Cricket Fairness Commission (ICEC) and its recommendations. “If I am confirmed as president, the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion work that has been carried out over the last two years will continue.”

But many were not convinced of Graves’ new approach, nor of the logic that left him as the club’s only salvation. Azeem Rafiq, whose experiences at Yorkshire Graves had previously been downplayed, told The Guardian of the proposed takeover: “I think it’s very sad. It is a clear message to me, to people of color and to South Asian people that cricket is not a game for us and it is not a place that the people who run the sport want us to go. That’s the message it sends. I woke up to a barrage of abuse and that’s what’s empowering: people being more openly racist. How we got here is a real scandal. “The game, the governing body, the sponsors – I think everyone in cricket should hang their heads in shame.”

In a statement, the England & Wales Cricket Board said: “The ECB takes note of today’s announcement from Yorkshire CCC… and understands that they concluded that this proposal was their only viable option to address the situation in which the club finds itself. and put it on a sustainable basis.

“Considerable work has been done in Yorkshire (and across cricket generally) in recent years to tackle discrimination and make the game more inclusive, and it is vital that this continues. We welcome Colin Graves’ commitment to continuing this work, his unreserved apology and his acceptance of the findings of the Independent Commission for Fairness in Cricket (ICEC). “These words must be put into practice if Members for Yorkshire approve this deal.”

Sanjay Patel and Sanjeev Gandhi, who worked with Graves in setting up Hundred while he was president of the ECB from 2015 to 2020, will be appointed, subject to member approval, as non-executive directors. Philip Hodson, a businessman, former Cambridge University first-class cricketer and former president of the MCC, will act as vice-president.

MP Caroline Dinenage, chair of the parliamentary culture, media and sport committee which has dedicated several sessions to cricket, focusing on Yorkshire, and has invited Graves to give evidence next month, said: “The disgraceful treatment of Azeem Rafiq by the Yorkshire CCC was the tip of the iceberg, where racism, classism, sexism and misogyny are embedded throughout the sport. The publication of the ICEC report last year marked a turning point for English cricket, which the ECB appears to be taking advantage of.

“Colin Graves’ return to Yorkshire and English cricket risks undermining the progress made so far. If the club is serious about rebuilding its reputation and finances, then Mr Graves and the club need to commit to fully respecting the ICEC’s findings and taking action. “The Culture, Media and Sport Committee will continue to monitor closely as this deal progresses, so that Yorkshire CCC’s terrible past is not repeated.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *