Yorkshire CCC latest: talks ongoing as club works towards financial solution with Mike Ashley's Frasers Group still in frame
Indeed, the chances of a sheikh with pockets deeper than the Persian Gulf holding sway in the Hawke Suite at Headingley any time soon would appear slimmer than Lord Hawke himself returning from the grave to sort out the ‘Graves’ – the Graves Trust to which the club owes circa £15m.
That Trust, the family trust of the former Yorkshire chair and chief executive Colin Graves, is thought to be making every effort to help the club through its present predicament, deferring a £500,000 payment due in October to give it more time to find the right solution.
The relationship between Trust and club is believed to be strong; it is, after all, in neither party’s interest for the club to slide into administration.
Although takeover interest from Rajasthan, the Indian Premier League franchise, has cooled (not that the deal was ever especially ‘hot’), with Yorkshire still, after all, a members’ club, positive discussions are understood to be continuing with Frasers Group, with a potential sale and leaseback of Headingley one way by which Yorkshire could meet their debts and generate dosh.
Efforts to extract information from the club - although cordially received - have been unsuccessful owing to the sensitive and indeed private nature of ongoing discussions.
But there is a sense of a Frasers deal that remains eminently feasible and filled with momentum, the company of the former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley.
However, it is understood that at no time have Yorkshire dealt directly with Ashley, potentially a ‘backseat’ backer, as it were, for whom the ground’s naming rights potential is attractive along with a move into cricket itself, while Yorkshire would seek assurances that Headingley would remain their home going forward.
In addition to talks with Frasers, it is thought that the club continues to attract interest from overseas consortia, another potential route to successful refinancing.
The deferred payment to the Graves Trust has opened the door to continuing conversations, giving the club important breathing space.
Yorkshire’s financial position has deteriorated from the high of a record £6.5m operating profit in 2019 on the back of the Ben Stokes Ashes Test and four World Cup games to the low of a £3.5m outlay in costs connected with the racism scandal.
That was the extraordinary figure expended during the reign of Lord Kamlesh Patel, the former chair, on such as legal fees and unfair dismissal payouts after various staff members were sacked for questioning the scandal’s ins-and-outs.
Yorkshire are seeking to draw a line under that wretched business off the field after receiving on-field sanctions in July that ended their hopes of winning promotion back to the County Championship First Division at the first attempt.
The club was docked 48 points by the Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC), following an investigation by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) that appeared to leave most stones unturned.