Harry Chathli chuffed at Yorkshire CCC chair proposal as club moves on from crisis period

HARRY CHATHLI believes that Yorkshire CCC has “turned the corner” following the racism crisis after being nominated as the club’s new chair.

The Yorkshire board is proposing that Chathli, a lifelong cricket fan and well-respected business leader, takes up the role pending members’ approval.

A two-thirds majority is needed to rubber stamp the appointment, which would see Chathli join the board as a non-executive director before the board can elect him chair.

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Members’ approval will be sought at an extraordinary general meeting at a date to be confirmed, although it will be held around a game if possible for members’ convenience.

Harry Chathli. Pic by Andre CamaraHarry Chathli. Pic by Andre Camara
Harry Chathli. Pic by Andre Camara

“I am delighted and truly privileged to have the board’s support as their nominee to become the chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” said Chathli, an international capital markets expert with a 25-year track record of advising global companies, organisations and government agencies.

“This is one of the most iconic clubs in the cricketing world and, as with all English cricket fans, Headingley has always held a special place in my heart.

“I have seen the positive steps taken over the past year by YCCC, and I believe Yorkshire has turned the corner; I’ve heard this from the business people I have spoken to over the past few months, and from well-known international cricketers.

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“It’s because of this that I jumped at the chance to get fully involved with this prestigious club.”

A general view (GV) of Yorkshire Vikings playing the Leicestershire Foxes in the T20 Blast earlier this week (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)A general view (GV) of Yorkshire Vikings playing the Leicestershire Foxes in the T20 Blast earlier this week (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)
A general view (GV) of Yorkshire Vikings playing the Leicestershire Foxes in the T20 Blast earlier this week (Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWPix.com)

Yorkshire have undergone sweeping changes on-and-off the field since the racism complaints made by their former captain Azeem Rafiq nearly three years ago.

Numerous staff were sacked in the aftermath, the club has spent several million pounds on unfair dismissal payouts, legal fees and costs, and on Tuesday it faces a sanctions hearing of the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) having pleaded guilty to four charges.

It is likely that a fine and/or points deductions will be recommended, with a final ruling to follow later.

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Chathli, 58, would succeed as chair Lord Kamlesh Patel and also Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, the latter having served as interim chair since March.

Yorkshire received what they described as “dozens” of applicants for the position, whittling them down to an initial shortlist of six which was then halved. Among those interested was Colin Graves, the former chair, to whose family trust Yorkshire owe circa £15m.

“The club has been through a difficult period,” said Chathli, whose daughter, Kira, plays for Surrey, South East Stars and Oval Invincibles.

“I would like to bring the focus back to cricket and excellence on the pitch, as the club continues to learn from the many issues it has faced.

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“I believe cricket excellence is built on two things: inclusivity and financial stability. YCCC needs to represent the Yorkshire of today and tap into all the extraordinary talent at its disposal, and we need to have the proper funding to do this.

“We have a lot of work to do, but I have been impressed by the determination and resilience the club has shown and am ready to work with the board and management to do everything I can to get the club back to where it should be.”

Yorkshire’s financial predicament remains pressing. In addition to the £15m owed to the Graves family trust, they are seeking around £5m of working capital as they look to refinance.

As previously reported, talks have been held with Mike Ashley’s Frasers Group, while Yorkshire say they continue to be involved in positive conversations around the refinancing.

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The Yorkshire Post understands an announcement could come any time between now and mid-August.

The nomination of Chathli, who has significant board experience in his working life and who founded two leading communications agencies among various distinctions, has the full backing of Baroness Grey-Thompson and Stephen Vaughan, the Yorkshire chief executive.

“Through a combination of commercial acumen and a genuine love for cricket, Harry is the ideal person to continue to drive the club’s recovery,” said Grey-Thompson.

“It has been an honour to serve in the role of interim chair as we have sought a replacement, and I am looking forward to working with Harry on the transition and supporting him in my role as a non-executive director over the coming years.”

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Vaughan remarked: “Harry was the outstanding candidate in a very strong field, and his passion for the game and vision for an inclusive future stood out to the whole board.

“His corporate and commercial experience will be vitally important as we look to secure the future health of the club, at the same time as reaffirming our commitment to deliver positive changes in line with the values and standards we have established as a board.

“We are determined to deliver long-term success and to build on the work we have done collectively to address the many challenges we have faced together to make Yorkshire County Cricket Club a thriving and welcoming place for all.

“We look forward to Harry having the opportunity to meet with members ahead of the EGM and can’t wait to welcome him to the Yorkshire family.”

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Commenting on Grey-Thompson’s contribution in filling the void, Vaughan added: “We continue to be incredibly grateful to Tanni for stepping in as interim chair since March, and for the huge amount of hard work she has put in on behalf of the club.

“The board wishes to put on record its thanks to her at what has been an immensely busy time.”