Mark Arthur quits troubled Yorkshire CCC as club targets ‘new leadership’

LORD PATEL last night declared it to be “an important moment” in Yorkshire’s history as the fallout continued from the racism crisis with the resignation of Mark Arthur, the club’s chief executive.

Mark Arthur, who has left his job as Yorkshire chief executive.

Arthur became the fourth man to leave office in the space of a week following the resignation last Friday of chairman Roger Hutton and the resignations of non-executive board members Hanif Malik and Stephen Willis.

Others may follow before the bushfire burns out.

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Lord Patel, the new Yorkshire chairman, said in a statement announcing Arthur’s departure: “This is an important moment for the club which is ready to move forward with new leadership, which will be vital in driving the change we urgently need.

Yorkshire's Joe Root, the England Test captain. Picture: PA

“We know there is still much work to be done and more difficult decisions to be made. We need to rebuild the trust of the fans, the cricketing world and the public.”

Yorkshire have been left utterly decimiated by the crisis, which followed former player Rafiq’s allegations of racism and bullying.

Sponsors have left in droves, almost falling over themselves in a rush to disassociate themselves with the club, and the England and Wales Cricket Board has suspended the club indefinitely from hosting international cricket and major matches, warning that further action could follow at the conclusion of its own recently-launched investigation into the matter.

Martyn Moxon, the Yorkshire director of cricket, is off with a stress-related illness, his own future in doubt having been practically left broken by the strain of the past year, and Andrew Gale, the first team coach, is currently suspended while the club investigates a tweet from 11 years ago that resurfaced last Friday.

Gale admitted to using the word “y**” in relation to a football chant during a conversational exchange, unaware that it was an offensive term for a Jewish person, and immediately deleted the post when the meaning was explained to him.

It appears that someone took a screenshot of the tweet, waited for 11 years and then threw it on the bushfire.

Paul Hudson, the club’s finance director, who less than two years ago was announcing record annual profits of £6.5m before Covid struck followed by the racism storm, has been made acting chief executive pending the recruitment process for a permanent replacement.

Arthur, 63, had been chief executive since 2013 and received widespread praise for his running of the club.

“I’ve had eight fantastic years at The Yorkshire County Cricket Club, working alongside an outstanding group of people, and together achieving many highlights,” said Arthur in a statement, which did not refer to the ongoing situation.

“I would like to thank the members for their support over this period and wish the club all the very best in the years to come”.

Arthur’s departure means that Yorkshire have effectively lost the spine of their off-field operation for various reasons in 24 hours: chief executive, director of cricket, first-team coach.

Rafiq had long been calling for the heads of Arthur and Moxon, as well as for Yorkshire to lose their international matches and fixtures in The Hundred. He had not commented on Arthur’s exit at the time of writing.

Earlier, the 30-year-old, who reportedly reached a £200,000 settlement this week on a parallel employment tribunal claim against the club, said that he was “incredibly hurt” after Joe Root, the England Test captain and his former Yorkshire team-mate, denied that there was a culture of racism at Yorkshire.

Asked whether he could recall an opportunity when he could have called out racism, Root said: “When I look back now, no, I can’t.”

Rafiq then tweeted: “Disappointed is not even the feeling. Incredibly hurt. But uncomfortable truths are hard to accept it seems.”

Root’s remarks came during a press conference in which Neil Fairbrother, his agent, was also on the call, highlighting the issue’s toxicity and sensitivity.

Root had earlier issued a statement on the racism crisis, which has led to some Yorkshire staff receiving death threats, a statement that was arguably a mini masterpiece in how to say all the right things while at the same time saying as little as possible.

The statement came hours after the Daily Telegraph revealed a letter sent by a delegation of Yorkshire staff to the club’s board last month which complained about Yorkshire’s failure to stand up to Rafiq’s “one-man mission to bring down the club”.

“Staff who knew Azeem well felt that an initial apology to him and an acceptance that he was a victim was not the correct approach and misrepresented entirely what kind of individual he was whilst at the club,” said the letter, which spoke of staff’s “extreme hurt” and of “misdirected, grossly unfair” criticism of Arthur and Moxon.

“EVERYONE needs to go,” tweeted Rafiq in response.