Geoffrey Boycott fearful Yorkshire CCC’s debt ‘is killing club’

Geoffrey Boycott has gained the required 30 nominations to stand for election to the board (Picture: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire).
Geoffrey Boycott has gained the required 30 nominations to stand for election to the board (Picture: Tim Ockenden/PA Wire).
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GEOFFREY BOYCOTT last night insisted he has no intention of interfering with cricketing matters as he accused Yorkshire of misleading members as to why he wants to return to the club’s board.

The former Yorkshire and England batsman is standing as a candidate at this month’s election and has rejected suggestions that he would be a disruptive influence who would potentially destabilise a winning side.

Yorkshire chairman Steve Denison wrote to members this week ahead of the pivotal annual meeting on March 26 outlining why Yorkshire are against Boycott joining the board.

Denison said it would be “counter-productive to disrupt things now”, with Yorkshire having won back-to-back County Championships in their most successful period since Boycott was a player.

Denison added that it would be “destabilising” and “not in the best interests of the club” to have Boycott back, with the club having “moved on” from when Boycott last served on the board in 2012.

He also highlighted the “very effective” working relationship between director of cricket Martyn Moxon and first-team coach Jason Gillespie.

But Boycott has hit back by revealing that he sent correspondence to the club, which stated from the start that he had no intention of getting involved in the cricket, or interfering with the work of the coaches.

He said he is effectively standing for these reasons:

n To champion members’ interests.

n Because he is concerned that Yorkshire could go bust unless they reduce debts of £20m-plus.

n Because he “passionately loves Yorkshire cricket”, which has “been my life for 60 years”.

Boycott, who has always split opinion as one of sport’s most charismatic figures, said he had “no desire whatsoever” to cause problems and insisted there are four places available to join a board that currently has as many officials.

Boycott gathered the necessary 30 nominations from the club’s membership to enable him to stand, and members will now vote en masse in a postal ballot.

Yorkshire are instead asking them to vote for club chief executive Mark Arthur, prominent local businessman Sir Gary Verity, and club director Robin Smith, who is up for re-election, which would leave them with six on the board – two short of capacity under club rules, with the intention then of attracting more “diversity” and a greater “balance of skills and experience” to the board going forward.

Speaking last night from his second home in Cape Town, Boycott questioned what Yorkshire “are afraid of”.

“The last thing I want is any trouble,” he said.

“I’m 75 years of age. I need trouble like I need a hole in the head.

“I’m only standing because there are vacancies on the board and because I care about the club. That’s all. I want to act for the members and the benefit of the club.

“I’m not standing to get involved in the cricket. That point has to be made. Our cricket is going good. There’s no problem with it.

“They’re making out I’ll get involved in the cricket and upset the applecart, but I’ve said twice in a letter that’s not my intention.

“Even when I was on the board before, I never got involved in the cricket; I never went in the dressing room once.

“Anything I had to say, I said at board meetings, and that’s how it should be as a board member, so what are they afraid of?

“The board are misleading people by suggesting I’m going to get involved in the cricket; the only time I would ever get involved is if I was asked.

“The cricket is going great, but while we’re basking in the cricket, and the success of the cricket, we’re racking up so much debt that, if we’re not careful, we might not be in existence further down the line, and it’s no good having a good cricket team and the club going down the tube.

“The club talk about diversity, but they’ve got businessmen on the committee who are supposed to know about money, and they’ve got us into this mess.

“Every Yorkshire member knows that you have to live within your means, and the debt is killing the club. It’s a recipe for disaster.

“I’ve got my own ideas, but we can’t go on racking up debt and massaging the finances.”

Boycott, who said he is also concerned that the club’s membership has reduced from 13,000 in his playing days to less than 5,000, echoing a disturbing national trend, has rejected Yorkshire’s offer to become their first global ambassador, which they describe as a “Sir Alex Ferguson-type role” and which he dismisses as “a red herring”.

Boycott said he had several times asked what the role would entail, but received “no flesh on the bone”, adding that he already acts as a global ambassador who has “raised a lot of money for Yorkshire and boosted their profile”.

Whatever the outcome of the vote, Boycott said he would still act as “an unofficial ambassador”.

He is going to Abu Dhabi later this month to watch the four-day game against MCC and said he had already booked his hotel for Scarborough.

“Whether I’m voted on or not, it won’t affect my love of the club,” he said.

“It’s always been my life.”