'An honour and a privilege' - Harry Chathli's appointment as Yorkshire CCC chair confirmed
The well-respected business leader received the two-thirds majority required of the members’ vote at the club’s emergency general meeting last month and will now take over from interim chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the multi-gold-medal-winning Paralympian, who will continue to serve on the board as a non-executive director.
Chathli will serve a three-year term as chair.
His appointment follows his election as a non-executive director becoming effective and the registration by the Financial Conduct Authority of relevant changes to the club’s rules.
He was put forward as the board’s candidate in the summer and has spoken passionately on numerous occasions about the club’s ‘iconic status’, that it can become a ‘northern powerhouse’ again and that it had ‘turned the corner’ after being ripped apart by the racism crisis.
Chathli said: “It’s an honour and privilege to be appointed chair of one of the most iconic clubs in the cricketing world and a renowned contributor to English cricket heritage.
“Cricket is at an inflexion point with unprecedented growth reaching new audiences who are attracted by the variety of formats.
“YCCC has played its part in this growth within the men’s cricket and has also been at the forefront of development of women’s cricket in the country. I am also proud of the fact we are championing disability and LGBTQ+ cricket.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank Tanni for her excellent stewardship of the club through a very challenging period this year.
“YCCC is an exceptional club and I'm looking forward to working with her, the board and the management team in bringing some trophies back to the club.”
Stephen Vaughan, chief executive officer of Yorkshire, said: “We are delighted to welcome Harry to the board and as chair at Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
“Harry brings strong business acumen and experience, and I am sure this positive impact that will benefit Yorkshire County Cricket Club and the Yorkshire family as a whole.
“The board looks forward to working with Harry and collectively we are committed to delivering long-term success that YCCC members deserve.”
Chathli, 58, is an experienced international capital markets expert by trade and founder of two successful communications agencies.
He is well-regarded in business and acutely aware of the club’s financial challenges; at the same time, he has made no secret of his desire to put the focus firmly back on cricket after so much off-field turmoil.
A useful club batsman and wicketkeeper in his day, who used to “bowl a bit before my shoulder went” he said in an earlier interview in The Yorkshire Post, Chathli’s daughter, Kira, plays for Surrey, the South-East Stars and Oval Invincibles in The Hundred.
In a passionate letter to members before the egm, in what amounted to an election manifesto, he spoke about inclusivity, financial stability and a desire to increase the pathway for young players.
“From the ashes of the turmoil of the past three years, the club has risen and taken significant strides and made tangible progress to alter a culture that was regarded as not welcoming to all,” he wrote.
“The board has worked tirelessly on the club’s behalf and, once appointed, my intention is to build on their efforts.”
Chathli continued: “I believe cricket excellence is built on inclusivity and financial stability.
“As a parent of children who have gone through the system at a club level, through the pathway process and now a representative cricketer.
"I have seen first-hand what has and what has not worked for us and others. I intend to bring my perspective to enable the broadest group of children to filter through our system and ensure that we have a wide pool to choose from.
“I believe this experience will help me create structures, if needed, and bring together various parties – state and independent schools, clubs, local authorities, to name a few, to help us continue on our journey towards becoming a truly inclusive and sustainable organisation."
He also promised at September’s egm that “cricket will be played at Headingley forever” amid reports that the club were exploring a sale and lease-back model of their famous ground, and after that suggestion came under fire from former player and Yorkshire legend Sir Geoffrey Boycott.
Discussions over the refinancing of Yorkshire are ongoing, with the county trying to raise circa £15m to pay back the family trust of Colin Graves, their former chair, and to generate several million pounds of working capital.