06 November 2021

‘Wholesale change’ needed – Yorkshire members urged to make voices heard

06 November 2021

Two Yorkshire members are campaigning to force the crisis-torn club to hold an emergency general meeting in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism allegations.

Chris Marshall and James Himsworth need 400 members to support their call as they attempt to challenge the existing hierarchy over both the way they have handled former player Rafiq’s claims and their general governance.

They have currently enlisted the backing of around 100 and are now urging others to join them by making contact on [email protected] to help instigate change.

Yorkshire have been suspended from hosting international matches at their Headingley home (Peter Powell/PA) (PA Wire)

Speaking a day after the resignation of chairman Roger Hutton, Marshall told the PA news agency: “What we can’t do is we can’t let them shuffle the same pack and leave the same jokers in.

“There needs to be a wholesale change on the board. We feel that more than anything, members need to have a much bigger say in determining what would give them confidence and comfort in the way Yorkshire was being run in the future.

“We feel Yorkshire needs that because they are haemorrhaging members. A lot of members have felt that the right thing to do is is to not renew or to say they’re not going to renew, and that helps them.

“It doesn’t really help the club and it doesn’t help the people who want the club to grow, so we want to have another push to make sure people see that even just the threat of an EGM may make them listen to us and listen to more people.”

Hutton’s resignation came after it emerged that a report into Rafiq’s complaint included an admission that one player had used the word “P***” in reference to him but that Yorkshire had dismissed it as “friendly banter”.

With sponsors severing their links with the county and after former England batter Gary Ballance had admitted using “a racial slur” against Rafiq, the ECB suspended Ballance from England selection and Yorkshire from hosting international matches.

Former England captain Michael Vaughan revealed he too had been named in the report but denied making a racist comment, with the club plunging ever deeper into controversy.

Marshall said: “Yorkshire are past masters at battening down the hatches and letting the storm blow over and ignoring the damage that it does.

We want the board to be far more inclusive around all communities, and that includes the membership.

“We feel that the board must be far more representative of the communities that Yorkshire operates in.

“As with a lot of clubs, at the grass roots, it’s good. The coaching system and the inclusiveness and everything at the grass roots is good, it just doesn’t get through this hierarchy of old-school, established way of running things.

“We want the board to be far more inclusive around all communities, and that includes the membership.”

The campaigners fear a failure to address the club’s governance could ultimately threaten their existence.

Former England captain Mike Atherton has spoken of his sadness at Yorkshire’s situation (Adam Davy/PA) (PA Wire)

Marshall said: “Part of the concern is that, with all this talk about the ECB thinking that they need to reduce the number of counties because 18 aren’t sustainable, and introduction of the Hundred and two divisions, it would be easy for them to let one club slip.”

Meanwhile, another former England captain, Mike Atherton, has spoken of his sadness at the situation.

Atherton told Sky Sports: “It’s a real mess up there and it’s so sad to see.

“When you think of Yorkshire, this is the greatest county cricket club in the land, really, with all the cricketers they’ve produced for Yorkshire and England, the historic matches that have been played at that great stadium and the culture of cricket in that county.

“The hope must be that through a change of leadership and a change of culture and approach, they can get through this to the other side, but they have to change and it has to become a place where everybody feels welcome.”

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