Julian Knight, chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee which has investigated the club’s racism scandal affecting whistleblower Azeem Rafiq, urged Yorkshire CCC members to “continue the process of the club’s rehabilitation” by backing a reform plan put forward by new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel.
Mr Knight said: “This should be just the first step in cricket putting its house in order.
“Such a move however will not only secure the long-term future of the club by restoring international matches to Headingley but will act as signal to the wider cricketing world that, with the right will, strong and determined action can be taken to tackle the scourge of racism that has stained the game.”
The high-stakes emergency general meeting is to take place at Headingley on Thursday, March 31 at 6pm - the same day as a deadline set by the ECB for club reforms to be agreed that will allow international cricket to return.
The ECB suspended Yorkshire CCC from hosting international matches in November but said in February it felt sufficient progress had been made under Lord Patel that the suspension could be lifted - meaning that a planned England Test Match at Headingley against New Zealand in June and a One-Day game against South Africa in July should be able to go ahead.
However, the ECB’s decision that international cricket could return came with two vital conditions - that by the end of March, Yorkshire must have resolved issues relating to rule changes and decisions which had been subject to “procedural flaws” and that club rules must be amended relating to the appointment and operation of the board, including the removal of powers currently held by the Graves Trust.
Hosting international cricket is vital to the club’s finances - its most recently-published accounts showed in 2019 that from its overall £18m revenue, £10.4m came from international games.
A circular sent to members earlier this month said the entire future of the club would be in doubt if Test cricket does not return.
It warned: “On the basis of independent insolvency advice and in light of the financial position of the club if Test cricket is not returned to Yorkshire, the leadership of the club will have little choice but to seek a restructuring solution and that includes the potential dissolution of the club.”
An “oversight” in notifying the Financial Conduct Authority about club rule changes has meant Lord Patel’s appointment as chair in November was not legally valid, while there were not enough serving directors for the appointment of club secretary and acting CEO Paul Hudson in December to be valid either.
Members are being asked to formalise their appointments as part of the reforms process and prevent them facing potential legal action over decisions made since November, including the sackings of 16 staff members.
Meanwhile, members are also being asked to accept a change which will see the Graves Trusts, which are linked to the family of former Yorkshire and England Cricket Board chairman Colin Graves and owed millions by the club, lose veto powers over future board decisions.
Mr Graves himself has already voted in favour of the reforms.
Other proposed changes include backing the appointment “of a diverse range of independent non-executive board members”.
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