Yorkshire CCC racism crisis: Andrew Gale suspended, Martyn Moxon on sick leave

YORKSHIRE have suspended first-team coach Andrew Gale –and director of cricket Martyn Moxon has gone on sick leave – in the latest twist to the county’s racism crisis.

Yorkshire's first team coach Andrew Gale. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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Gale has been suspended while the club investigates an historic tweet in which he told Paul Dews, the former Leeds United head of media and now the head of communications at Middlesbrough FC, to “Button it, y**!”

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Gale said that he was “completely unaware” that ‘y**’ is an offensive term for a Jewish person and insisted that he deleted the tweet shortly after posting it in November 2010.

Yorkshire coach Andrew Gale. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

The tweet resurfaced last week – on the day that Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton resigned along with non-executive board members Hanif Malik and Stephen Willis – amid the racism storm surrounding the former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq.

As Gale, 37, explained when the tweet re-emerged: “This post is part of a conversational thread between Paul Dews and myself. Paul worked for Leeds United Football Club at the time and I am an avid Huddersfield Town fan. The reference is to a chant that was prevalent at the time in relation to Leeds fans.

“Within a few minutes of the post, Paul called me and explained the meaning of the word and that it was offensive to Jews. I was completely unaware of this meaning and removed the post immediately.”

Gale said that someone must have “taken a screenshot of the post and waited 11 years to release it”, adding: “I would never have used the word had I been aware of its offensive meaning and I have never used it since.”

Martyn Moxon, Yorkshire's director of cricket. Picture: Richard Sellers/SWpix.com

Now Yorkshire have suspended Gale – who was then club captain – while they investigate one of several allegations to have hit them in recent days.

The club also revealed that Moxon, the former Yorkshire and England opening batsman, who has been director of cricket at Headingley for the past 14 years, is suffering from stress as the fallout continues from a crisis that has seen Yorkshire lose sponsors in droves and receive an indefinite suspension from hosting international cricket.

Moxon, 61, has not been well for some time as the crisis has escalated and he will not now appear at next Tuesday’s parliamentary select committee hearing into the matter, with Wayne Morton, the former England physiotherapist and the current Yorkshire head of science and medicine, thought likely to attend instead, along with chief executive Mark Arthur.

Moxon and Arthur, the club’s executive board members, were criticised by Hutton – who will also attend the hearing, as will Rafiq – in his resignation statement for “a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the board and senior management at the club to apologise and to accept racism and to look forward.”

Arthur, 63, has continued to work as normal this week, with the new chairman Lord Kamlesh Patel having met club staff on Monday and planning to speak as soon as possible to every player.

Patel, 61, has said in relation to the futures of Arthur and Moxon that he would “look at what’s gone on, seek independent help and make the right decisions once I have assessed the evidence.”

Arthur and Moxon disagree with findings from the independent investigation into the treatment of Rafiq, who has agreed a settlement figure reportedly worth around £200,000. That concluded a parallel employment tribunal claim he brought against the club, and Rafiq has since reiterated his repeated calls for Arthur and Moxon to quit.

In a statement last night, Yorkshire said: “We can confirm that Andrew Gale, Yorkshire first XI coach, is currently suspended pending a disciplinary hearing following an historic tweet. The club will make a further statement once this process has been completed.

“Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon is, as of today (9 November), absent from work due to a stress-related illness. He will be given the necessary support.”

Yorkshire added that the full report from the independent investigation – the summary findings from which were released in September – “is currently only being shared with those with a legal interest and it is not appropriate to publish it whilst it is under legal review”.

The club added: “We can confirm that the report was sent to the chair of the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Julian Knight MP, on Monday morning.

“Following his comments today in Parliament, we immediately followed up with him and the report has been re-issued to the select committee.”

Yorkshire also said that they “fully support” the “Call for Evidence” initiative launched by The Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket (ICEC).

Lord Patel, who is promising regular updates in relation to the crisis, said that a number of allegations surrounding Yorkshire will be “properly investigated”.

Former players Tabassum Bhatti and Irfan Amjad have made claims of historic racism, while Bilal Shafayat, the former Nottinghamshire player, has tweeted that he was racially abused by an ex-Yorkshire fast bowler during a game.