Yorkshire racism crisis – Colin Graves backs Yorkshire reforms, saying ‘club must move on’

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Former chairman backs governance changes that will return Test cricket to Headingley

Colin Graves, the former chairman of Yorkshire, and a man whose family trust has been at the centre of a row over governance reforms at the club, says that he backs the crucial changes required to ensure the return of international cricket at Headingley.

Yorkshire was suspended by the ECB from its major-match status in November, with all of its major sponsors severing their ties as well, following Azeem Rafiq‘s revelations about a culture of institutional racism at the club.

With a new chairman, Lord Kamlesh Patel, at the helm, the club has been striving to meet an ECB-imposed deadline of March 31 for the reinstatement of this summer’s Test match against New Zealand and an ODI against South Africa – without which, Patel has warned, the club would face a stark financial crisis.

However, two attempts to hold an Emergency General Meeting to usher through the necessary reforms have been kiboshed by Patel’s opponents – chief among them another former chairman, Robin Smith, whom Patel accused of attempting to “delay and derail” the process.

But Graves – whose family trust is owed approximately £15 million following a bail-out in the early 2000s – has told the BBC that the county “needs to move on”.

“As a Yorkshire vice-president and member I have voted to support the changes as outlined by YCCC to its members,” Graves told the BBC. “I really hope that the legal advice taken by the club on these issues is sound and solid.

“The club now needs to move on, and get back to staging international matches and playing cricket at the highest level in England and Wales.

“The talent that Yorkshire continues to produce is outstanding, as shown in the recent West Indies Test match where four out of 11 players came through the Yorkshire academy.”

Graves’ comments come after Patel last week warned Tom Harrison, the ECB chief executive, that his position was being made untenable by Smith’s obstruction. In particular, he feared being made personally liable for millions of pounds in compensation, following the dismissal of 16 members of Yorkshire’s back-room and medical staff at the height of the crisis last year.

In a statement the ECB said it was “deeply concerned about reports of division at Yorkshire CCC”.

“Given all that we have heard from Azeem and others about the club, it has been absolutely clear that reform is needed,” the statement read. “Lord Patel has set out a significant and serious plan to make Yorkshire CCC a modern and diverse club capable of representing and engaging all communities in Yorkshire.

“We want to see all parties work together to support Lord Patel in the reform package he has set out. It is not acceptable for anyone to stand in the way of progress at YCCC.”

Julian Knight, the chair of the parliamentary select committee that has been conducting an inquiry into the racism allegations, added: “Lord Patel needs the support of the ECB and the wider cricket community in his battle to change Yorkshire’s culture and I’m pleased that this seems to be happening.”

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