Yorkshire cricket chairman says club must become private structure to survive

Yorkshire County Cricket Club chairman, Colin Graves, has said decisive action is needed to rescue the club from its financial woes.

Graves, who returned to the county at the start of the year as it sought to recover from a hugely damaging racism scandal, has warned the club remains in a very difficult financial position.

Despite having an Ashes test in 2023, the club recorded a £2.7m trading loss for the year, including incurring £1.9m of “exceptional” (i.e. non-cricketing) expenses.

Recent accumulated losses now stand at more than £9m, with a further considerable loss anticipated in 2024 largely as a result of limited international scheduling.

During the period 2021 – 2023, exceptional cash costs – primarily related to legal expenses, fines and settlement agreements – amounted to a total of more than £5m.

A combined creditor balance of more than £5m has been accumulated, in addition to amounts owed to long-term debt providers, who continue to accept payment deferrals.

These balances, in respect of historical trading periods, were put on hold to prioritise the exceptional payments, but they must now be cleared to enable the club to remain operational.

Yorkshire also has continued dependence on long-term borrowing – now in excess of £20m – to keep it afloat.

Graves said: “Unfortunately, there is no doubt that without swift and decisive action, YCCC will be fighting for its survival during 2024.

“The club is approaching borrowing limits and owes crucial operating partners considerable sums, all while being consigned to further financial losses in 2024.

“We urgently need to take appropriate action to ensure that YCCC is financially stable, fit for the future.”

He added Yorkshire’s Board has been working to secure new financing to ensure the club survives through 2024.

In addition to £4m of new funding secured during the first quarter, the club now requires a further £5m during the summer.

Graves said: “We are currently engaged in discussions with several credible potential funding partners and are scrutinising them based on their commitment to Yorkshire cricket, our members, and the preservation of our club for future generations.

“These fundraising efforts are being undertaken alongside a thorough exercise of reducing the club’s cost base, targeting material efficiencies and the reduction of our funding need.”

He warned the club’s current status as a mutual society continues to hamper efforts to attract private financing.

He said a demutualisation – which involves converting the club to a private structure to unlock potential private investment – appears “essential” for Yorkshire’s future.

“My firm intention is that members’ current rights are protected and that a demutualisation would represent no change to their current interaction with YCCC,” he said.

“Other county clubs, including Hampshire and Northamptonshire, have successfully demutualised and are realising the benefits of this structure.”