Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale investigated over anti-Semitic message as racism crisis deepens

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Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale investigated over anti-Semitic message as racism crisis deepens - latest updates - GETTY IMAGES
Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale investigated over anti-Semitic message as racism crisis deepens - latest updates - GETTY IMAGES

Yorkshire head coach Andrew Gale is being investigated by the England and Wales Cricket Board over an anti-Semitic tweet, it emerged on Friday, amid the club's deepening racism crisis.

In a now deleted post on Twitter from November 2010, the then club captain told Paul Dews, who was head of media at Leeds United Football Club at the time, to "Button it y--!"

Gale told the Jewish News website, which first reported the tweet, that he was “completely unaware” of the offensive nature of the term at the time he sent the message.

The message had been sent as a reply following an online exchange with Dews, who is now head of communications at Middlesbrough Football Club. Gale wrote then: “Thought you might pipe up! Button it y--!”.

As Yorkshire Cricket Club’s chief executive Mark Arthur confirmed on Friday that the club is investigating the "completely unacceptable" comment, Gale said: “This post is part of a conversational thread between Paul Dews and myself.

"Paul worked for Leeds United Football Club at the time and I am an avid Huddersfield Town fan. The reference is to a chant that was prevalent at the time in relation to Leeds fans.

“Within a few minutes of the post, Paul called me and explained the meaning of the word and that it was offensive to Jews. I was completely unaware of this meaning and removed the post immediately.

"You must have been sent a screenshot of the post that someone took at the time and waited 11 years to release. I would never have used the word had I been aware of its offensive meaning and I have never used it since.”

However, Leeds North East MP Fabian Hamilton, who is also Jewish, told Jewish News: “Language like this is not only problematic but anti-Semitic and could point to a wider problem of racism at Yorkshire. Sports men and women are role models for so many people so, if this comment is verified, Andrew Gale must do the right thing and apologise immediately.”

The England and Wales Cricket Board said: “We strongly condemn any form of discrimination and have procedures in place to address conduct which is alleged to be of this nature. We will investigate as part of our disciplinary process.”

The fresh row comes hours after Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton resigned with immediate effect over the club’s handling of the Azeem Rafiq case.

06:00 PM

That's all for today's live blog

But we will have updates on this story across Telegraph Sport this evening and over the coming days.

05:41 PM

Reaction from Vaughan's co-presenter Phil Tufnell

“Obviously, it’ll be a shame that Michael won’t be appearing on the Tuffers and Vaughan Show on Monday,” Tufnell told Telegraph Sport. “It’s the BBC’s decision, isn’t it? It’s not mine.”

Tufnell said he had not been told yet whether anyone would stand in for Vaughan on Monday but that he was looking forward to welcoming him back the following week.

He added: “He’s always been a top guy and I’ve worked alongside him now for a number of years. I’ve never heard him say any racist comments or racist words, so all I can do is take as I find.”

05:29 PM

Here's the latest on Michael Vaughan

Michael Vaughan suspended from BBC radio show after Azeem Rafiq allegations

05:08 PM

Michael Vaughan categorically denied

Any accusation of racism in his Telegraph Sport column last night.

04:47 PM

Breaking: Michael Vaughan stood down from upcoming BBC 5 live show

A BBC spokesperson says: "The BBC takes any allegations of racism extremely seriously.

"The allegation against Michael Vaughan pre-dates his time working for the BBC, we were not part of the investigation conducted by Yorkshire County Cricket Club and we have had no access to the subsequent report.

"However, we were made aware of a single allegation which Michael strongly denies and we have been monitoring the situation closely.

"We have made the editorial decision that Michael won’t appear as a presenter on 5 live’s Tuffers and Vaughan Show on Monday.

"The show focuses on topical discussion around current cricketing matters and given his personal involvement, we need to ensure we maintain the impartiality of the programme. We remain in discussion with Michael and his team."

04:23 PM

Yorkshire 'need to learn from past errors'

According to the county's new interim chairman Lord Patel. Here's what he said earlier:

“I’m looking forward to taking this club forward and driving the change that is needed. The club needs to learn from its past errors, regain trust and rebuild relationships with our communities.

“There is much work to do, including reading the panel’s report, so we can begin the process of learning from our past mistakes.

“Yorkshire is lucky to have a vast talent pool of cricketers, and passionate supporters, from all of our communities and we must re-engage with everyone to make a better Yorkshire County Cricket Club for everyone.”

03:35 PM

Yorkshire's response to those who have bought tickets for next year's Test and ODI

As a ticket holder for England internationals scheduled at Headingley in 2022 we wanted to provide an update to you.

The Yorkshire County Cricket Club notes the statement released by the ECB yesterday evening, including the decision to suspend the Club from hosting international games.

We will be discussing the implications of the ECB announcement with them as a matter of priority. Please be assured that we are determined that the Club’s actions will appropriately address those concerns and protect the plans you’ve already made.

It is our priority to keep you informed of all updates following discussions that we will have with the ECB as it conducts its investigation and review.

Please also be reassured that should we not be able to host a fixture you have purchased a ticket for that you will be entitled to a full refund.

The Club would like to reiterate its stance that there is no place for racism and we are determined to do all we can to regain the trust of all our supporters, members, partners and stakeholders.

03:28 PM

On Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon

Ben Rumsby writes:

Telegraph Sport has been told Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon have no plans to quit as Yorkshire chief executive and director of cricket and are leaving their fate in the hands of Lord Patel.

02:37 PM

Notable that the statement

Confirms the resignations of three non-execs but says noting about the status of the two execs, Mark Arthur (CEO) and Martyn Moxon (director of men's professional cricket), the two men Azeem Rafiq has directly criticised and the two Hutton said were part of 'a culture that finds it difficult to accept challenge and change'.

02:34 PM

Yorkshire confirm departure of directors Hutton, Malik and Willis

The Board of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club has met this morning and can confirm a number of changes.

It is resolved to do whatever it takes to regain the trust of all its stakeholder inside and outside the game.

Further to the resignation of Roger Hutton from the Board this morning, Hanif Malik OBE and Stephen Willis have also stepped down from the Board. The Club would like to thank all of them for their respective contributions.

Neil Hartley will remain on the Board to ensure a smooth transition to new leadership, but intends to step down in the near future.

Lord Kamlesh Patel of Bradford has been appointed as a Director and Chair of the Club.

Lord Patel said: “I’m looking forward to taking this Club forward and driving the change that is needed.

The Club needs to learn from its past errors, regain trust and rebuild relationships with our communities.

There is much work to do, including reading the panel’s report, so we can begin the process of learning from our past mistakes.

Yorkshire is lucky to have a vast talent pool of cricketers, and passionate supporters, from all of our communities and we must re-engage with everyone to make a better Yorkshire County Cricket Club for everyone.

02:28 PM

Sport England statement on Yorkshire's handling of Rafiq's complaints

The England and Wales Cricket Board's recent statement signals their intent to deal with the profound and structural issues at YCCC – highlighted by the club’s handling of this situation.

It is also important that they follow the due process of their investigation into the racism suffered by Azeem Rafiq with equally swift and robust action.

This situation demonstrates a significant challenge to all of us in sport. The provision of safe, inclusive and welcoming places for people to take part in sport, at any level, is essential. It is therefore a key requirement for any organisation in receipt of public funding to demonstrate effective governance.

As we are with all sports, we are currently in discussions with cricket about their next cycle of funding from Sport England. The issues of inclusion, diversity and good governance will form a significant part of those discussions – including how we can help them as a national body make sure that the strong focus on these issues in our Code for Sports Governance can be effectively cascaded down into regional and county structures.

It is not enough for any individual or organisation in sport just to say they stand against racism and discrimination; it’s about action, people and purpose to create the changes needed so no individual or community feels excluded. It’s important to remember that at the heart of this situation there are individuals who have been victimised.

Inclusion is a fundamental value for Sport England and will continue to inform our decision-making as we implement our strategy, to create greater opportunities for everyone to take part in sport and physical activity.

02:11 PM

Lord Patel has been appointed chairman of YCCC

Lord Patel of Bradford has been appointed interim chairman of Yorkshire after Roger Hutton quit over the racism scandal that has engulfed the county, with other board members said to have joined him.

Labour peer Lord Patel, who retired from the board of the ECB last year, was parachuted into the Headingley hotseat after being asked to steer the club through the worst crisis in their 158-year history.

Colin Graves had been willing to return as chairman but that was ultimately viewed as being too toxic an appointment amid accusations Yorkshire had also been institutionally racist during his own tenure.

You can read the full story here

01:11 PM

Roger Hutton's BBC interview

I found a culture that's locked in the past. A culture that finds it difficult to accept challenge and change.

And that was it. They used only a snippet.

12:44 PM

Roger Hutton

Will be on the BBC's one o'clock news bulletin, giving his first interview since resigning as Yorkshire CCC's chair this morning.

12:15 PM

Government minister to hold talks with governing body

Ben Rumsby reports:

Telegraph Sport has been told Nigel Huddleston, the sports minister, is meeting the ECB today to discuss the ongoing crisis.

12:06 PM

Rafiq's courage has given others the confidence to speak out

11:48 AM

The Professional Cricketers' Association has released a statement

Following recent developments relating to Yorkshire CCC, the PCA wishes to reiterate that there is no place for racism or discrimination in cricket.

Specifically, racist language by any member is wholly unacceptable, and there can be no mitigating circumstances. The PCA will continue to work closely with the ECB until these matters are fully resolved and the Association is supportive of the regulatory and disciplinary process announced by the ECB on Thursday.

In addition, we continue to press Yorkshire CCC to release the full details of its report.

11:33 AM

ECB CEO Tom Harrison on the sanction

The measures are very, very tough and they're unprecedented in, I suppose at the level that they have been decided at. But we will very soon work to try and pick things up and ensure that what will be an immediate financial crisis at Yorkshire does not turn into something much more serious and the next essential threat to the club.

And clearly, we have to move quite quickly into rehabilitation and ensuring that we get that that balance right between the sanction and coming out the other side here. And there is another side here with a healthy and thriving Yorkshire County Cricket Club which is so important to cricket in this country.

11:31 AM

ECB has sanctioned Yorkshire by stripping Headingley of international matches indefinitely

Following an emergency meeting of its board, the ECB suspended Yorkshire from hosting “international or major matches” until they have demonstrated they can “meet the standards expected of an international venue, ECB member and first-class county”.

They stand to lose two matches they have only recently been awarded - June’s second Test against New Zealand and July’s third one-day international against South Africa.

11:18 AM

Alex Sobel, MP for Leeds North West, has been speaking to Ben Rumsby

Alex Sobel, the Leeds North West MP, told Telegraph Sport he was “really concerned” at “the lack of support from the ECB” cited by Hutton.

“The ECB should really be stepping in during a crisis like this but they don’t seem to have the capacity or the ability to do that – or the will maybe.

“The governing body of the sport has to have a role other than allocation international cricket matches. They have a wider responsibility than that.”

The ECB is currently in the process of recruiting a new chairman of its own and Sobel added: “What the ECB need to think about is appointing a chair in the context of this crisis for cricket, somebody who would be capable of showing the leadership for the game.

“The credibility and integrity of the game is at stake now, and if everybody just buries their heads in the sand then things will get worse not just for Yorkshire but for the game of cricket.

“Organisationally, the ECB needs to step up.”

Asked whether the entire Yorkshire board should quit, Sobel said: “What we need is an EGM of the members.”

10:59 AM

Another director quits Yorkshire's board, more to follow ...

Telegraph Sport has been told that Stephen Willis, the non-executive Yorkshire director who was on the panel that ruled Gary Ballance calling Azeem Rafiq a P--- had been banter, has also quit.

Hanif Malik, Yorkshire's only non-white director, was expected to follow suit at today's board meeting.

Malik stood down from the racism panel last year after Rafiq objected to his presence, claiming no action had been taken when concerns were previously outlined to him and the Yorkshire management.

10:57 AM

Last year Scyld Berry wrote rich, personal profiles of each of the 18 counties

Here are his thoughts and sketches from his native Yorkshire.

10:52 AM

Harrison is asked why the board waited for politicians and sponsors to act before taking action

I don’t think it was about sponsors walking away or politicians becoming involved. It was about the game being dragged through the mud and the disrepute as a result of the press statement that was made by Yorkshire CCC last week that no action was going to be taken in response to the upheld allegations of racism that the investigation had yielded.

I think that was the moment where we felt that we were going to be dealing with something very different – not a breach of regulations per se, but a breach of the set of values that we have in cricket and the strategy that we’ve adopted and the contract that you have with people about their involvement in this game, that unwritten contract that the game will be there for you.

That is where the problem lay.

It became very clear very quickly that we would have to take significant action because actually the message was that cricket is light on racism. And there is no way on earth that that can ever be a message that can be – racism has no place in this sport. Any form of discrimination has no place in this sport. We need to take decisive action because Yorkshire have failed to do that, so we did

10:45 AM

Harrison was asked if he had a message for Azeem Rafiq

I think of Azeem a lot, and of what he has been going through for a long time. I think now it feels like this is some vindication for Azeem. We've apologised as a sport to him, that's something that our chairman did before he departed, and I've also said the same thing in terms of apologising to Azeem for what he went through as a player when he was playing for Yorkshire.

My message is, once again, that I hope that Azeem can see, frustrating as it must have been given the length of time this has taken, he can see how serious the ECB is about matters relating to race in cricket. I think that his patience is probably very short and I would understand that. But I hope in time that Azeem can become a person for whom cricket is part of his life again, without feeling that the game has let him down in a big way.

So my message to him, is I hope he's OK. And that he feels that appropriate action is now being taken, albeit probably later than he would have liked.

10:42 AM

ECB CEO Tom Harrison has been speaking about Yorkshire's conduct this morning.

I have not read the report and it's important that I haven't read the report because the the report goes through a regulatory process. And that process is underway now. My views on the report or my opinions on the report are not important at this point. I will read the report once the investigation has been carried out and it's appropriate for me to do so. So it's really important. It's good governance at work here. We need to be super clear about this, that you know there are processes laid down and where we run roughshod over agreed process as a regulator that is where national governing bodies get in trouble. The fact is, we play multiple different roles - we are the national governing body, we are the regulator, we are judge, jury and executioner if you like in some way, shape or form. And we have to be really clear with regulatory process of which this is one.

We have taken action this week on the handling of the issue, and that is where the sanctions have come from. As I said from the outset, we've responded to the handling of the affair and the impact on the cricket environment as a result of the Yorkshire County Cricket Club's handling of this investigation.

10:12 AM

YCCC Executive board members' response to Hutton's statement

Ben Rumsby reports: 'Yorkshire director of cricket Martyn Moxon, one of the two executive board members accused by Hutton of refusing to apologise over the scandal, declined to comment when contacted by Telegraph Sport.

Chief executive Mark Arthur could not be immediately reached for comment.

The ECB also hit back at Hutton's claim it had refused to help with Yorkshire's own inquiry into the matter.

"Yorkshire CCC did reach out to us at the beginning of the investigation with a request that we partner with them on exploring Azeem's allegations of racism and bullying against the club.

"Our role is to operate as a regulator across the entire game. We must act independently of any club investigations, should we ever be required to intervene as regulator – either during or after.

"The reason why our governance is structured in this manner is perfectly demonstrated in the way that these issues have played out at Yorkshire County Cricket Club."

10:01 AM

Julian Knight, chair of the DCMS committee, has been speaking about Hutton's resignation

This is the right thing to do however there have been many missteps in his chairmanship. But at the same time clearly this rot goes far deeper than just Mr Hutton. I'm aware also of players from outside Yorkshire going to Yorkshire even just for training and being abused.

I fundamentally believe that this now needs to be a much more wide ranging inquiry conducted by the ECB into what is quite clearly a culture of overt racism at Yorkshire CC. ... I have been contacted by representatives on behalf of a couple of players. That's from outside Yorkshire.

I see no way in which the club board can be in situ until the ECB is confident that those who are in charge of the club are 100 per cent committed to reform and have a clear plan in place to carry out that reform. We've seen frankly they're fighting like cats in a sack this morning and even blaming the ECB for not being part of the inquiry which obviously as a regulator they could not be.

I can see very few avenues for any member of the board remaining in place however in our inquiry we will be asking those members of the board to account for themselves...[so we must not say they must all go]. I fail to see in the circumstances why the board remains in place.

I think the ECB is full of regret, they were right to refuse to be part of Yorkshire's inquiry because they were the regulator, but what they should have done is, frankly, say we have history in this area and we need to take this upon ourselves and take a robust approach. They have been I think a little bit slow in coming to the conclusions they have done however they do operate under a legal process themselves.

We need to toughen up what the ECB can do and make it much clearer that if you are found in this issue where you are encountering racism they need to go in there and sort it out.

09:54 AM

The sponsors' response to Yorkshire's handling of the investigation

The club's 2019 accounts showed it had earned just over £3 million from commercial income which would include sponsorship but various companies have now severed ties with Yorkshire.

Emerald Group Publishing
The digital-first publishers were Yorkshire's primary commercial partners, but withdrew its naming rights of Headingley, home of Yorkshire cricket and Super League club Leeds Rhinos, that it had held since 2017.

The American sportswear brand cancelled its deal to be Yorkshire's official kit supplier having agreed a four-year contract as recently as March.

Anchor Butter
Shirt sponsor Anchor Butter announced that it would not continue to sponsor the county's 50-over team.

Yorkshire Tea
Yorkshire Tea ended a deal with the county, which was due to conclude soon, with immediate effect after saying it was "upset" to read about Rafiq's experiences during his time at Headingley.

Tetley's Beer
Local brewer Tetley's Beer, involved with Yorkshire cricket for decades, confirmed it would not extend its beer sponsorship with the club beyond the end of the current contractual agreement.

Harrogate Spring Water
Harrogate Spring Water released a statement saying it was ending its sponsorship agreement "with immediate effect".

David Lloyd Clubs
David Lloyd Clubs announced its "local level partnership" between their Leeds club and Yorkshire would be discontinued after being put on hold a few weeks ago.

The national painting and decorating contractor withdrew its partnership with the club.

Leeds Beckett University
The university said it was "pausing all currently planned activity" with Yorkshire.

09:49 AM

Azeem Rafiq's response to Hutton's statement

09:48 AM

Roger Hutton on the club board's executive directors

There has been a constant unwillingness from the Executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward. For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.

How the board was constituted prior to Hutton's resignation:

Chair Roger Hutton
Vice-Chair Neil Hartley
Chief Executive Mark Arthur

Board Roger Hutton (Non-executive director), Martyn Moxon (Executive director), Stephen Willis (Non-executive director), Mark Arthur (Executive director), Trevor Strain (Non-executive director), Hanif Malik (Non-executive director) Neil Hartley (Non-executive director).

09:41 AM

England captain Eoin Morgan has been asked about the subject in his pre-South Africa press conference

"If matters are of an extreme or serious nature like these are, they need to be met head-on. For us as a team, that's exactly what we want to see.

"Yes, we want to see the sport in a great light but equally if there's an issue as serious as this we want it dealt with as well.

"We firmly believe that there is no place in our sport for any type of discrimination, and I think the actions of the ECB board to Yorkshire have indicated how serious they are about dealing with issues like this."

England have taken the knee during the tournament, having been unable to wear their 'Moment of Unity' T-shirts promoting messages of all forms of anti-discrimination because of International Cricket Council kit regulations.

Eoin Morgan - Alex Davidson/Getty Images
Eoin Morgan - Alex Davidson/Getty Images

Morgan added: "We can only do so much in role-modelling what we believe is right. We want to do things that make a difference, and I believe we've made strides forwards as a group in doing that in various parts of our game.

"We have found things that are not only pushing things forward, or taking the cap forward, but also feel very authentic to individuals and where they have come from.

"In teams you have to be yourself. It should feel a little bit like being at home. Obviously it won't feel like being at home, being around your family, but it should be relaxed, and given that freedom to feel comfortable in your own skin."

09:31 AM

Latest: Roger Hutton quits amid Yorkshire racism allegations

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton has resigned with immediate effect, as the fallout from Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations against the club continues to grow.

Hutton was this week called to appear in front of the parliamentary Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee to explain Yorkshire's handling of Rafiq's claims and the independent report into the matter.

He has now decided to leave his post, citing frustration at board members and senior management.

"Today I announce my resignation as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect," he said.

"There has been a constant unwillingness from the Executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward.

"For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge."

Hutton joined the Yorkshire board in 2020, almost two years after Rafiq ended his second stint at Headingley, and says he has never met the player.

Despite that he has now opted to take a share of responsibility for the county's response to claims which have been in the public domain for more than a year and were raised through formal channels long before. He has called on the executive members of the board to follow his lead and resign.

Hutton resigned in the wake of Thursday's news
Hutton resigned in the wake of Thursday's news

Most recently, Yorkshire determined that no employees would face any disciplinary action despite the independent panel upholding that Rafiq had been a victim of racial harassment and bullying.

"During my time as chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action. This frustration has been shared by all of the non-executive members of the Board, some of whom have also now resigned," he continued.

"I now call for those executive members of the Board to resign, to make way for a new path for the club I love so much.

"When someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made. I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.

"I am sorry that we could not persuade executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition."

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