Colin Graves set for Yorkshire return as board accepts financial bail-out


Colin Graves’ return as Yorkshire chairman looks set to be ratified next month, after the club’s board approved a restructured loan agreement from the consortium that he heads up.

The prospect of Graves’ return to the role that he held between 2012-15 comes after Yorkshire this week claimed that it had spoken to more than 350 interested parties, but that his offer was the only one capable of warding off the financial peril faced by the club in the wake of the racism crisis that has engulfed it in recent seasons.

In a statement, the club said: “The board of Yorkshire County Cricket Club has tonight agreed to recommend the loan agreement from Mr Colin Graves.” This is expected to involve an immediate injection of £1 million, followed by new investment worth £4 million.

“The club will be sending a notice to members tomorrow [Thursday, 11 January] ahead of an EGM [extraordinary general meeting] which will outline the details of the offer as well as the resolutions and rule changes that are required to be ratified by members at the EGM.”

Graves’ impending return is controversial, given that he was at the helm for some of the period that came under scrutiny during Azeem Rafiq’s testimony about his racist experiences at the club, for which Yorkshire was fined £400,000 and docked points for the 2023 season.

Despite denying any knowledge of racism on his watch, Graves was last year criticised by the ECB for suggesting that some of the incidents raised had been “banter”.

His involvement with Yorkshire began in 2002 when, as the founder of the Costcutter supermarket chain, he stepped in with another financial bail-out to save the club from bankruptcy. In March it was announced that the club had a £3.5 million shortfall and needed to repay approximately £14.9 million to the Graves Family Trust, which is managed by independent trustees.

Speaking to talkSPORT on Tuesday, Graves said: “The ball is in the Yorkshire board’s court to make a decision, but my interest is real. It’s absolute, and that’s for one reason and one reason only, and it’s to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club. None of us wants to see that institution disappear.”

Other potential sources of investment had included Mike Ashley, the former owner of Newcastle United, and the Saudi national investment fund.

Writing in The Observer on Sunday, Rafiq criticised the “broken promises” that had paved the way for Graves’ return, and called for the club’s sponsors to reconsider their involvement – as had been the case when the scandal originally erupted in November 2021, when a raft of partners including Emerald, Adidas and Yorkshire Tea all withdrew their support. One current sponsor, local tiling company Al Murad, is believed to be monitoring the situation closely.

The development has also attracted criticism from a local MP. Alex Sobel, the Labour member for Leeds North West, said he was “very concerned” by Graves’ return, and called for him to offer “not just a statement recanting his views but full commitment to create a club for the whole community.”

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