Yorkshire: Colin Graves-led takeover approved by county members

Colin Graves
The Graves deal was approved by 88% of the Yorkshire members who voted

Yorkshire’s members have approved a controversial takeover of the cash-strapped club by a consortium led by former chairman Colin Graves.

It means the 76-year-old, who was chair of Yorkshire from 2012-2015, is set to return to the role.

Graves’ time at Yorkshire was part of the period for which the club was fined for failing to address the systemic use of discriminatory or racist language.

The deal now needs approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

A special resolution at a heated extraordinary Yorkshire general meeting on Friday was passed with 746 votes in favour – 88% of the votes cast.

Three associates of Graves – Phillip Hodson, Sanjay Patel and Sanjeev Gandhi – are also set be appointed to the board as non-executive directors.

Subject to approval by the FCA in the next fortnight, the second tranche of a personal, unsecured loan of £1m from Graves will be advanced to the club.

Members have been told the new non-executive directors will then work with the board to arrange further funding of up to £4m over a five-month period.

With almost £15m owed to the Graves family trust and a host of other potential investors no longer at the table, the board said last month it was recommending the loan offer from Graves “having exhausted all other options” in its search for refinancing to avoid entering administration.

Last month Graves “personally and unreservedly” apologised for the racism scandal.

He had previously denied knowledge of any racist behaviour during his time at the club but was criticised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) last year after suggesting some incidents were “banter”.

Former Yorkshire player turned whistleblower Azeem Rafiq – who revealed he experienced racism at the county – had called on Yorkshire’s sponsors to oppose Graves’ return.external-link

Graves has accepted an offer from the chair of the Culture, Media and Sport Committee, Dame Caroline Dinenage MP, to give evidence to the committee on 20 February. She said his return “undermines” the progress that Yorkshire has made so far.

Current Yorkshire chair Harry Chathli told members on Friday: “We as directors would not be discharging our duty of care if we deliberately put this club into administration just because we didn’t like a personality. That cannot happen.”

Chief executive Stephen Vaughan said: “We have kissed a lot of frogs and been to lots of beauty parades, and we are at a place now where the deal that Colin and his team are bringing to the table is the only one that will keep the business solvent going forward.”

Yorkshire has been seeking fresh investment since losing sponsors over its handling of the racism scandal, while it also had to agree compensation packages with sacked staff who won claims for unfair dismissal.

The ECB initially withdrew Yorkshire’s right to stage lucrative international matches at Headingley and only reinstated it after major governance changes were enacted.

Charity Sporting Equals said Graves’ return would “make a mockery” of victims of racism.

But Yorkshire insisted a “rigorous process” by the board had been conducted “to ensure the club stays operational”.

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