Former chairman has reportedly been in negotiations with club about another financial bailout

Azeem Rafiq has called on sponsors to leave the club if Colin Graves is reappointed as Yorkshire chair, and he has criticized the likely return of Graves to that role.

Rafiq, who last year in the County Championship saw the club fined £400,000 and docked 48 points, along with sanctions against six players, for speaking out against racism he experienced as a Yorkshire player, expressed in a Sunday newspaper column that he felt that “nothing had changed” in the 40 months since he first brought up the matter, and that “all we have are empty words and broken promises.”

After serving as chair between 2012 and 2015, when the club agreed to an ECB allegation of neglecting to address the pervasive use of racist or discriminatory language, Graves has apparently been in negotiations with Yorkshire about a comeback. When Graves characterized the accusations of racism as “banter” in a TV appearance in June, it caused controversy. Graves claimed that the accusations had never been brought up with him. He also declined to testify as a witness in November 2021 at the parliamentary hearings that followed Rafiq’s charges.

Rafiq stated in the Observer that “perhaps there is still time to act, maybe there is still time to show some backbone, but it’s running out fast.”

“I think back to November 2021, when the England and Wales Cricket Board, facing tremendous political pressure, barred Yorkshire from hosting international cricket matches due to their inadequate and tardy handling of my evidence. Dozens of companies dissolved their affiliations with the club in the hours that followed.

“I have a question for Yorkshire’s present sponsors right now. Do you think Colin Graves embodies your values? Is it appropriate to refer to racism as humor?

“Sponsors previously discovered their moral compass; now, they must rediscover it, as any organization endorsing this is involved in it.” They still have time to take action, depart immediately, and prevent Yorkshire from going back in time and reversing the gains they have made over the previous three years.”

Around £14.9 million of the multimillion-pound loan that Graves provided to save the club in 2002 is still owing to the Graves Family Trust. Graves disclosed last week that his consortium was in exclusive talks until January 5 after a fresh ownership bid was accepted. Members of the club may be asked to vote on his proposal in an extraordinary general meeting, contingent on the outcome of those negotiations.

“I still believe that everyone deserves a second chance,” Rafiq stated. “Graves must take appropriate action in addition to speaking the proper words if he is to guide the team and the game in the right path.

“He must demonstrate that he has come to terms with the past, is prepared to act decisively both now and in the future when tough choices must be made, and that he is ready to take decisive action. It’s reasonable to claim that thus far there have been no indications of this.


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