Yorkshire cricket county members vote in favour of Colin Graves-led takeover

Yorkshire County Cricket Club members have today consented to a controversial takeover of the club by a consortium led by former chairman Colin Graves.

It means Graves, who was chair of Yorkshire from 2012 to 2015, will return to the role.

His time at Yorkshire included the period for which the club was fined for failing to tackle systemic use of discriminatory or racist language. The deal to ratify his return still needs approval from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

A resolution at an extraordinary Yorkshire general meeting today was passed with 746 voting in favour – 88% of the votes cast.

Three associates of Graves – Phillip Hodson, Sanjay Patel and Sanjeev Gandhi – will also 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 given to the cash-strapped club.

The new non-executive directors will then co-operate with the board to sort out further funding of up to £4m over a five-month period.

With nearly £15m owed to the Graves family trust and 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” to avoid falling into administration.

Graves previously denied knowledge of racist behaviour during his time at Yorkshire but he was criticised by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) after suggesting some of these incidents were “banter”.

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq – who said he experienced racism at the county – had urged Yorkshire’s sponsors to reject Graves’ return.

Current Yorkshire chair Harry Chathli told members: “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.”

Yorkshire has been hunting for new investment since sponsors walked over its handling of the racism scandal. It also had to agree compensation packages with sacked staff who won claims for unfair dismissal.

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

Graves said this afternoon: “I would like to express my thanks to the membership of Yorkshire County Cricket Club who have so overwhelmingly voted to ratify the board’s decision to accept my offer to our great club.

“Having now been accepted by the board and membership of YCCC, that offer now requires the final approval of the Financial Conduct Authority.

“Until such approval is given, a new board cannot be formed, nor a new chairman elected to begin the urgent work of resolving the club’s financial situation. I have no further comment to make at this stage.”