Mark Arthur stands down as Yorkshire chief executive amid racism crisis

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Mark Arthur has resigned as chief executive of crisis club Yorkshire with immediate effect.

Arthur has faced intense pressure over recent days as the fallout from Azeem Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism has escalated.

Rafiq renewed his longstanding calls for Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon to resign after reaching a settlement in his employment tribunal against the county earlier this week, with those sentiments echoed by culture minister Chris Philp in the House of Commons.

Moxon is currently signed off with a “stress-related illness” but Arthur has followed the lead of former chair Roger Hutton by leaving his post at Headingley.

Lord Kamlesh Patel, who replaced Hutton on Friday and has since set about instituting a number of initiatives related to the allegations against the club, said: “Today the board at Yorkshire County Cricket Club has accepted the resignation of Mark Arthur as CEO. We thank him for his tenure.

“This is an important moment for the club, which is ready to move forward with new leadership, which will be vital in driving the change we urgently need. We know there is still much work to be done and more difficult decisions to be made. We need to rebuild the trust of the fans, the cricketing world and the public.”

Lord Kamlesh Patel
Lord Kamlesh Patel replaced Roger Hutton as chairman on Friday (Danny Lawson/PA)

Arthur made no mention of Rafiq, the investigation and independent report into his claims or the slew of commercial sponsors who have abandoned Yorkshire in recent days in his parting words.

Instead he offered a bullet-point list of the “many highlights” of his “eight fantastic years” at the club.

He signed off: “I would like to thank the members for their support over this period and wish the club all the very best in the years to come.”

Arthur is one of six individuals called to give evidence to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee on Tuesday, a session covered by parliamentary privilege that will begin with Rafiq’s testimony.

News of Arthur’s exit comes after England captain Joe Root called for change at the county in response to a crisis that has “fractured our game and torn lives apart”.

Root is the best, and best known, Yorkshire player of his generation but his voice had been largely absent from the story that started over a year ago with Rafiq’s allegations of institutional racism but has escalated to engulf the White Rose in recent weeks.

Joe Root
Joe Root commented on the crisis for the first time on Friday (Adam Davy/PA)

He chose to enter the fray on Thursday, issuing a statement from England’s Ashes training camp on the Gold Coast, in which he condemned all racism as “intolerable” and called for direct action at Yorkshire.

The 30-year-old, who made his second XI debut for the club in 2007, also offered his assistance to Patel as he attempts to pick up the pieces amid a slew of fresh claims from former players.

Root wrote: “In my capacity as England captain and as a senior player at Yorkshire, I feel compelled to address the current situation that has consumed the sport and YCCC.

“I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting. There is no debate about racism, no one side or other. It is simply intolerable.

“These events have fractured our game and torn lives apart. I want to see change and actions that will see YCCC rise from this with a culture that harnesses a diverse environment with trust across all communities that support cricket in the county.

“I will reach out to YCCC new chair, Lord Patel, to offer support however I’m able. I certainly don’t have all the answers, but I think we need to educate more and earlier; we must call it out straight away and have our eyes and ears open more.

“Inclusivity, diversity and anti-discrimination is something over the past few years the England teams I have been involved in have spent a lot of time talking about and are very passionate about improving and making a big difference.”

Some of the biggest names during Root’s time with Yorkshire have seen claims made against them. His friend and mentor Michael Vaughan completely denies making an offensive comment to a group of Asian team-mates over a decade ago, former flatmate Gary Ballance has admitted using a “racial slur” against Rafiq during a close friendship and former club captain Andrew Gale is currently suspended from his post as head coach pending the investigation of an offensive historic tweet.

But Root made it clear he had not personally witnessed any such behaviour and also insisted that he had no intention of leaving the county himself.

He added: “In terms of my position, if you’re not at the club how can you make any change? How can you help move things forward? That’s my position on things and we’ll see how that happens in the future.”

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