Colin Graves’ hopes of returning as Yorkshire chair have come to an end in acrimonious fashion, with the club accusing the businessman of a “distinct lack of understanding” about the club’s current position.
The troubled county is still looking for a new chair following Lord Kamlesh Patel’s departure in March and is under financial pressure due to a £15million debt to the Graves Trust.
That is due to be paid back in full next October, with an initial £500,000 payment due this autumn, while fast rising interest rates have made refinancing problematic.
Graves, who saved Yorkshire from going under in 2002 and went on to become chair of the England and Wales Cricket Board between 2015 and 2020, had publicly signalled his interest in picking up where he left off at Headingley but indicated that he wanted undiluted control as part of any comeback.
Graves, who sits independently from his family’s trust, has now walked away and reportedly sent an email outlining his displeasure to interim chair Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson. The Daily Telegraph states Graves accuses the board of acting “negligently” during an “arduous and disappointing” recruitment process.
The club responded with a stinging riposte, with a board statement reading: “We have been notified that Colin Graves has decided to withdraw his application for chair. We are disappointed that he has decided to do so publicly and are obliged to make it absolutely clear that at no point did Colin make a clearly defined, tangible offer that the board was able to consider formally, unlike other interested parties involved in the refinance process.
“We have consistently outlined that the new chair would be appointed using a fair, thorough and robust process, which is ongoing. Colin indicated that the terms of his return as chair would require total control of the board and executive.
“This would run counter to that process, as well as the best practice governance requirements set out in the County Governance Code that were agreed by all counties in 2019. Colin also makes a number of allegations about the board’s actions in regard to finances which are unfounded and indicate a distinct lack of understanding of the current position of YCCC.
“The short and long-term financial well-being of the club remains the board’s priority, and we will not be distracted by speculation which is unhelpful to our primary objective of securing the future of Yorkshire County Cricket Club and making it a welcoming club for everyone.”
A host of potential investors have been linked with the White Rose, including former Newcastle owner Mike Ashley, the group behind Indian Premier League franchise Delhi Capitals and the sovereign wealth fund of Saudi Arabia.
In April, Yorkshire appointed Grant Thornton in the United Arab Emirates to explore investment options in the Middle East and North Africa.