Proposals to restructure the board of Yorkshire and enable the county to host international cricket again this summer have been overwhelmingly approved by members on a pivotal day in the history of one of cricket’s most famous clubs.
Yorkshire lost its right to host international matches in the wake of its handling of racism allegations brought against the county by the former player Azeem Rafiq. Kamlesh Patel was subsequently appointed as chair last November to help oversee structural, wholesale changes at the county but a proposed extraordinary general meeting to approve the changes had been cancelled on two separate occasions, while former chair Robin Smith had indicated he would vote against the reforms.
With the England and Wales Cricket Board promising it would lift the ban on hosting international matches providing a number of conditions were met by the end of March, Yorkshire faced the prospect of a day that could have had grave ramifications on the county’s long-term financial future if the proposals were turned down by members. But in Headingley’s famous Long Room on Thursday evening, over 80% of the 1,100 members both in attendance and via proxy voted in favour of the changes.
Lord Patel’s appointment as chair – something Smith had described as “invalid” – was given the seal of approval before members voted in favour of the removal of Graves Trust powers and the appointment of six non-executive directors to the club’s board.
Patel said: “We welcome the outcome of this EGM and thank the Members for their full and proper consideration, an open exchange of views, and their votes. It means Yorkshire can stage internationals against New Zealand and South Africa this summer, in the process averting a major financial crisis. It is an overwhelming vote for positive change.
“This support will help Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be an inclusive and welcoming place and gives us the clarity and certainty we need to keep building this great club. Yorkshire has now met the ECB’s conditions for the return of international cricket and, working with them, we’ll deliver some great events here at Headingley this summer.”
Rafiq was pleased that the measures had been voted through, tweeting: “Relieved to see Lord Patel’s reforms backed today and that Yorkshire members chose a bright, inclusive future for my club. Big opportunity to show the world what can be achieved when you have strong leadership and good people.”
The ECB welcomed the news but insisted there was much work still to do at Headingley. “We are pleased that Yorkshire members have given their overwhelming support to these reforms,” an ECB spokesperson said.
“This is an important step forward in bringing about real change and setting the club on course for a more inclusive future. We welcome the progress made by Lord Patel so far, as well as his commitment to making the club one which everyone, from all backgrounds, can be proud of.
“With these governance reforms now having been passed, we are satisfied that international cricket can now be staged at Headingley this summer. However, there is much work still to be done at Yorkshire and it is important that the plans set out so far are now delivered. We will continue to monitor progress closely.”