Yorkshire could face insolvency if deal is not voted through – Colin Graves

Colin Graves has written to Yorkshire members urging them to back the “bumpy ride” that would come with his proposed return or face the prospect of insolvency.

An extraordinary general meeting will take place at Headingley on February 2 to vote through changes that would see Graves reinstated as chair of the debt-stricken club with associates Phillip Hodson, Sanjeev Gandhi and Sanjay Patel joining the board.

The existing board has already recommended Graves’ loan offer and proposals, which require a two-thirds majority among the membership to go ahead.

Spinner turned whistleblower Azeem Rafiq, whose experiences of racism partly occurred during Graves’ previous reign between 2012-2015, has strongly criticised any comeback for Graves, while the parliamentary culture, media and sport committee has said it will be “watching closely” and has invited the 76-year-old to appear in front of it.

Azeem Rafiq speaks at a DCMS committee hearing
Azeem Rafiq has strongly opposed Graves’ return (House of Commons/PA)

With nearly GBP 15m in debts to the Graves family trust and a fresh GBP 1m cash injection instantly repayable should the changes not win approval, the immediate financial situation is a stark one.

Graves’ letter puts it in clear terms to members, stating: “If the deal does not receive the requisite support of members the consequences are far-reaching. This may result in administration or an insolvency event.”

He later adds of his own rescue plans: “Make no mistake, this is not going to be easy. It will be a bumpy ride and there is a great deal to do. We can do this together with hard work, transparency, trust and enthusiasm from committed people.

“I therefore ask you to give me your support on the ballot paper as I have outlined my manifesto to you to make YCCC great again.”

Graves directly addressed concerns over Yorkshire’s future as a member-owned club, with other potential investors having sought an outright takeover. He said that was not part of his immediate vision for the White Rose but made no long-term promises.

“I want to make it clear that there are no discussions or plans to change the mutual status of YCCC. However in the changing and challenging arena of both UK and World sport, nothing can be ruled out in the future,” he wrote.

Yorkshire's Headingley Stadium
Yorkshire face an uncertain financial future (Danny Lawson/PA)

“At all times we will ensure that the rights of all YCCC members to watch all professional cricket in Yorkshire will be maintained.”

Reiterating last week’s apology for any discrimination that took place during his prior tenure, he again attempted to appease those who fear his return would represent a backwards step.

“It is my personal pledge to you and to the entire Yorkshire public that, regardless of background, community or ethnicity, all will be welcome in the fully inclusive culture and environment of Yorkshire County Cricket Club,” he said.

“There will be no exceptions. I have unreservedly apologised for any and all mistakes either I or the club has made over the painful and difficult years of the recent past. Lessons have been learned and will continue to be acted on as we move forward and focus on the future of our great club.”