Lord Patel salutes Yorkshire reforms as Headingley internationals get go-ahead

Lord Kamlesh Patel,

New Yorkshire chair Lord Patel saluted “an overwhelming vote for positive change” as structural reforms were approved by club members to pave the way for Headingley to stage England matches this summer.

At Wednesday night’s extraordinary general meeting, three resolutions, including the ratifications of Patel as chair and Paul Hudson as chief executive, were voted through by sizeable majorities.

These changes mean Yorkshire can host international matches, having been stripped of the privilege by the England and Wales Cricket Board following the club’s mishandling of Azeem Rafiq’s racism claims.

Patel and Hudson received 932 of 1,109 votes cast, with 22 abstentions, in favour of their appointments, well above the minimum two-thirds threshold required for the change to be rubber-stamped.

“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,” Patel said. “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.

“We’re looking forward to the start of the season, for all our teams and for cricket at all levels right across this county.”

Hosting internationals provides a significant chunk of Yorkshire’s revenue and Headingley can now welcome England in a Test against New Zealand in June and South Africa in a one-dayer in July.

The appointment of non-executive directors was ratified by members, who voted to bring an end to the Graves Trust’s influence and release directors from liability for decisions made since November 5.

Patel was installed as chair almost six months ago, succeeding Roger Hutton, who resigned amid the Rafiq fallout, and was tasked with overseeing wholesale cultural and structural changes.

Shortly afterwards 16 members of staff, including first-team head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon, were removed from their roles. Former Yorkshire and England fast bowler Darren Gough has since filled Moxon’s position on an interim basis.

Complicating matters has been the cancellation of two previous EGMs, with former chair Robin Smith repeatedly labelling Patel’s role as invalid.

The ECB last month announced the club’s international rights would be restored on the proviso of conditions being met, but complicating matters was the cancellation of two previous EGMs while former chair Robin Smith said he would vote against the reforms and termed Patel’s position as “invalid”.

Ultimately, though, the changes have been approved and the county’s former off-spinner Rafiq said on Twitter he was delighted “Yorkshire members chose a bright, inclusive future for my club”.

An ECB spokesperson added: “We are pleased that Yorkshire members have given their overwhelming support to these reforms.

“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.

“Our regulatory investigation into the complaints brought by Azeem Rafiq, which is separate to this process, remains ongoing and we will update on this in due course.”