Yorkshire sponsor monitoring possible Colin Graves return ‘very carefully’

By Sports Desk January 09, 2024

A sponsor of Yorkshire says the words and actions of Colin Graves will have a “strong bearing” on whether it continues to engage with the club, should he return.

Graves is understood to be close to completing a return to the financially-stricken club, where he first served as chair between 2012 and 2015 before performing the same role at the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The 75-year-old’s previous Yorkshire tenure covered part of a period where the club have since admitted charges of failing to address the systemic use of racist or discriminatory language.

For his part Graves denies knowledge of any racist behaviour during his time at the club but controversially suggested there was “a lot of banter”.

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq said in a column for The Observer at the weekend that sponsors should question their continued involvement in the club, and one of them, tiling company Al Murad, has now indicated that it is closely assessing the situation in light of the news concerning Graves.

A spokesperson for Al Murad told the PA news agency: “We are reviewing the situation at Yorkshire Cricket very carefully.

“We are in communication – and we expect to be communicated to – as the process of securing long-term funding is brought to a conclusion that will trigger constitutional and governance arrangements to deliver financial stability going forward.

“On the strength of that information and communication, we will review how intrinsic is equity, equality, representation and inclusiveness at Yorkshire Cricket if Mr Graves does take the helm.

“The deep changes required that Lord Kamlesh Patel subsequently brought about, and future commitment to go above and beyond, will have a strong bearing on how we view any future engagement. Of course the ECB and possibly other actors will have a bearing on the final outcome.”

Yorkshire-based Al Murad came on board as a community partner of the club in 2022 in a three-year deal, following the appointment of Lord Kamlesh Patel as chair after the racism scandal under the club’s previous leadership led to a number of sponsors walking away.

Al Murad’s support features on the county age group team kits and the company’s partnership and investment with the club focuses on improving access to the pathway structure and seeks to remove socio-economic barriers to entry as well as coaching bias.

Graves said his sole reason for wanting to return to Yorkshire was to help save the club.

He told talkSPORT: “The ball is in the Yorkshire board’s court to make a decision, but my interest is real, it’s absolute, and that’s for one reason and one reason only, and it’s to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club. None of us wants to see that institution disappear.

“It’s not in a good place so from my point of view that’s the reason I’m doing this. I’m passionate about the place and I want to make sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club survives and prospers.”

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