Colin Graves close to Yorkshire chair return after winning support of board over financing

GEORGE DOBELL - EXCLUSIVE: The club is scheduled to make a significant repayment to the Graves Trusts - understood to be around £3million - later this year. At present the club is struggling to make that payment


Former ECB chair Colin Graves [Justin Tallis/AFP via Getty Images]

Colin Graves looks set to make a controversial return to cricket administration as chair of Yorkshire.

Graves, a previous chair of both the club and the ECB, appears to have won the support of the current Yorkshire board on the basis that he offers a short-term solution to their financial issues.

The club is scheduled to make a significant repayment to the Graves Trusts - understood to be around £3million - later this year. At present the club is struggling to make that payment, which could lead to the club becoming insolvent.

"To clarify questions around monies owed to the Graves Trust, the full amount of £14.9m is owed in October 2024," a Yorkshire spokesperson told The Cricketer on Friday (February 24). "However we will need additional monies in 2023 for BAU (business as usual) expenditure."

The majority of board members are prepared to back a return for Graves on the basis that he would delay the repayment.


Colin Graves could be set for a return to Yorkshire [Getty Images]

The timing of Graves' return would prove ironic. Yorkshire have just pleaded guilty to four Cricket Discipline Commission (CDC) charges relating to allegations of a racist culture at the club. Some of those issues relate to the period during which Graves was associated with the club and refer to failures to "address systemic use of racist and discriminatory language by players and or employees over a prolonged period" and "a failure to take adequate action following receipt of allegations of racism on part of staff and spectators".

While Graves did not always hold an official position at Yorkshire, the representatives of his family Trusts held a veto over board positions.

The club's former chair, Roger Hutton, has claimed the trustees resisted attempts to discipline staff implicated in the investigation into racism and discrimination. Graves has always denied such involvement. 

His return, though, is likely to spark renewed interest from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee and the CDC. Graves has previously declined invitations to appear before the DCMS committee and, as a former administrator, was beyond the jurisdiction of the CDC. His return to the game would make him answerable to both.

In addition to issues at Yorkshire, Graves could be asked to explain what action he took as ECB chair when an Essex board member reported an incident of alleged racism at a board meeting at the club. Essex were subsequently penalised for a lack of action. 

The ECB are understood to view Graves' return as a potential source of embarrassment for the sport.

There are at least two other candidates for the role of Yorkshire chair. One of them, Lord John Mann, is understood to have an alternative financing package.


Yorkshire are in the process of recruiting a new chair [Getty Images]

Meanwhile Steve Vaughan, the Yorkshire chief executive, has insisted the nominations committee at the club remains in place despite reports to the contrary. Sport England guidance for best practice in regard to appointments demands such a committee is in place.

A statement from the club to The Cricketer on Friday said: "The process for the appointment of chair is ongoing under the auspices of the nominations committee. We cannot, however, comment on any individual applications.

"As a board we have a responsibility to maintain our recruitment policies and procedures are fair as well as a responsibility to oversee the short and long-term financial wellbeing of the club, and a key element of the position of chair will relate to an ability to lead a refinance process.

"To clarify questions around monies owed to the Graves Trust. The full amount of £14.9m is owed in October 2024. However we will need additional monies in 2023 for BAU expenditure.

"We are determined and committed to the long-term success of the club, and to build on the work we have done collectively to address the many challenges we have faced together to make Yorkshire County Cricket Club a thriving and welcoming place for all.

"We will make any announcements in regard to the appointment of the chair in due course once the process has been completed."



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