Azeem Rafiq affair: Colin Graves ready to step back in at Yorkshire CCC as pressure mounts on Roger Hutton

ROGER HUTTON is not expected to survive as Yorkshire chairman with Colin Graves set for a dramatic return.

The Yorkshire Post understands that Hutton is coming under intense pressure at Headingley having effectively led a strategy of silence on the Azeem Rafiq racism case.

Hutton and the Yorkshire board have been criticised heavily for their handling of the affair, resulting in the club being summoned to explain its actions before parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee.

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The club’s supporters, sponsors and stakeholders have made their feelings clear and it is understood that Graves, the former Yorkshire supremo and ex-England and Wales Cricket Board chairman, is ready to “sort out the mess”, as one source put it, “and bring everything into the public domain”.

Colin Graves, the former Chairman of the England and Wales Cricket Board, could be coming back to Yorkshire (Picture: PA)

Hutton, along with Yorkshire chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon, are expected to give evidence to the DCMS select committee on November 16, along with Rafiq.

Arthur and Moxon are among those understood to be bitterly frustrated among staff and senior officials at Headingley that Yorkshire have never sought publicly to challenge Rafiq’s allegations, of which 36 out of 43 were not upheld by an independent investigation – including the central ones of institutional racism and that Rafiq’s release from the club in 2018 was motivated by race as opposed to cricketing reasons.

Rafiq is pursuing a separate employment tribunal claim against the club.

Instead, Hutton, who convened the investigation conducted by the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs, took charge of the club’s public response, issuing a series of inadequate, intermittent statements since the crisis started around 15 months ago and not giving a single interview on the subject.

Roger Hutton: Is expected to lose chairmanship of Yorkshire CCC. (Picture: JPImedia)

Yorkshire admitted in September that Rafiq had been “the victim of racial harassment” during his first spell at the club from 2002 to 2014 and “subsequently the victim of bullying”. Rafiq returned for a second spell at Yorkshire from 2016 to 2018.

Arthur and Moxon, whom ESPNCricinfo reported yesterday were “dismissive of Azeem’s concerns” relating to race prior to his release in 2018, as was the investigation team which described some as being not “wholly credible”, are understood to have disagreed with the conciliatory tone of Hutton’s responses throughout the crisis.

Sources say that they have had their “hands tied and their mouths closed” and “told to keep out of it”, with Hutton – who joined Yorkshire last year – resisting calls to “front up”.

Now, after the intervention of DCMS, it seems that the other side of the story will soon be heard, a story which Graves is also understood to be keen to bring to wider attention. Graves was Yorkshire chairman during Rafiq’s first spell before leaving to take charge of the ECB.

Major sponsors continued to abandon Yorkshire yesterday while political pressure continues to build on the club.

A prominent group of the county’s politicians – including former Labour leader Ed Miliband and shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves – have written to the ECB demanding action.

Emerald Group Publishing, primary commercial partners who held naming rights to Headingley Stadium, and Yorkshire Tea followed shirt sponsors Anchor in ending their association with the team.

News analysis: Page 1