Yorkshire County Cricket Club appoints new chairman amid ‘institutional racism’ storm

A new chairman has been appointed by Yorkshire County Cricket Club, which is vowing to do “whatever it takes” to regain trust after a former player accused it of institutional racism.

Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford has been appointed as a director and chair of the Club in the wake of Azeem Rafiq‘s allegations.

Following the resignation of former chairman Roger Hutton, Hanif Malik OBE and Stephen Willis have also stepped down from the Board.

Neil Hartley will remain on the board to “ensure a smooth transition to new leadership” but will step down in the near future, the club said.

This week has seen the club stripped of its right to host international cricket, a mass exodus of sponsors and growing political pressure from Westminster – with Health Secretary Sajid Javid saying “heads should roll”.

The organisations who cut ties

The club’s 2019 accounts showed it earned just over £3m from commercial income, which would include sponsorship. But now at least nine organisations have withdrawn sponsorship – including Nike, Yorkshire Tea and Anchor Butter.

On Friday morning, Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) Hutton resigned and called on members of the executive board to follow suit, amid claims he had been unable to persuade them to “recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition”.

Mr Hutton had been called to appear in front of the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee and has said he will still appear, despite resigning.

In a swipe at cricket’s governing body, Mr Hutton also said he “immediately reached out” to the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after he had been made aware of Rafiq‘s allegations, adding: “I was saddened when they declined to help.”

Responding to Mr Hutton, an ECB spokesperson confirmed a request had been made to partner with the club on an investigation into the claims.

“Our role is to operate as a regulator across the entire game,” they said.

“We must act independently of any club investigations, should we ever be required to intervene as regulator – either during or after.

“The reason why our governance is structured in this manner is perfectly demonstrated in the way that these issues have played out at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.”

On Thursday, the ECB banned the club indefinitely from hosting international or major matches after the “wholly unacceptable” handling of racial harassment claims.

An independent panel report previously found Rafiq – who played for the club for two spells between 2008 and 2018 – had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying, but found the repeated use of the offensive term “P***” had been delivered “in the spirit of friendly banter”.

YCCC concluded that no employees of the club would face disciplinary action.

Former England batsman Gary Ballance has admitted he was guilty of using a racial slur against Rafiq, while Ashes-winning England captain Michael Vaughan “completely and categorically” denied making racist remarks after being named in the report.

Former Yorkshire cricketer Ismail Dawood said he also experienced racist remarks, from a very young age.

He told Sky News: “I did experience racism, racist remarks throughout my tenure.

“I have talked to them in this inquiry so I have nothing to hide, like many of us who have talked about our experiences – some disturbing ones.”

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