Anjan Luthra claimed attempts to improve Cricket Scotland were being undermined by lobbyists after he resigned as chairman in the wake of major criticism of his and the organisation’s attempts to tackle racism.
Luthra has quit less than six months after being appointed and several days after four members of Cricket Scotland’s Equality, Diversity and Inclusion advisory group resigned over a perceived lack of progress in making change.
The outgoing chairman had been heavily criticised the previous week for claiming “significant progress” was being made in the ongoing response to a report in July last year which uncovered 448 examples of institutional racism. Cricket Scotland was the subject of further criticism in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
Luthra’s immediate exit was announced in a brief statement by Cricket Scotland, which thanked him for his “hard work and input”.
But the media entrepreneur and former Scotland youth international soon aimed criticism at sportscotland, which still has the governing body in special measures, and he also appeared to hit out at campaign group Running Out Racism.
“I fundamentally disagree with the way sportscotland is operating the sport,” Luthra said in a statement posted on his Twitter account.
“I believe their priority is to meet the demands of a lobby group and a handful of individuals associated with them – even if that means the wider sport and community will be negatively impacted.”
Luthra claimed tackling the issues arising from the Changing The Boundaries report had been his “top priority” but that it would have been “negligent” to ignore other issues.
He added: “In less than six months, we have saved the firm from potential insolvency, offered our women’s team paid contracts for the first time, published a governance review, secured innovative ways for our international teams to play more cricket, made substantial progress against the Changing The Boundaries recommendations, signed new commercial deals, rebuilt internal departments and engaged with the wider cricketing community. I have personally held over c.100 meetings with stakeholders.
“However, recent events have made it clear to me that sportscotland and the lobby group have little desire to holistically rebuild and improve Cricket Scotland. I am not prepared to stand by this.
“It is my professional opinion that the lobby group will not be satisfied unless all financial and human resources are dedicated to tackling the findings from Changing The Boundaries.
“If this happens, Cricket Scotland will likely cease to exist and the wider cricketing community will gravely suffer.”
Luthra also claimed that his board had no control over resolving the referrals over specific allegations of racism because the “current phase is being led by sportscotland” and expressed concern about the “over-involvement of the lobby group and the lack of objectivity in the referral process, which casts doubt on its legitimacy”.
The final claim was made despite Cricket Scotland confirming in September that the referral process would be led by law firm Harper MacLeod alongside race equality charity Sporting Equals and “where appropriate” Running Out Racism.
It is understood sportscotland, which has doubled its financial support from £460,000 a year, has some oversight of the process along with Cricket Scotland given the sums of public money being invested.
A spokesperson for sportscotland said: “This has been an exceptionally challenging time for everyone involved in Scottish cricket and we would like to thank Anjan Luthra for his contribution as chair.
“We will take immediate steps to provide additional leadership and governance support to Cricket Scotland.
“We remain fully committed to helping rebuild Scottish cricket and have provided unprecedented levels of support to Cricket Scotland since publication of the Changing The Boundaries report in July 2022. That support represents an almost doubling of our core investment across the financial year.”
Luthra last week faced calls to step down after his progress update, which came on the day chief executive Gordon Arthur stepped down.
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, who represents the former internationals who sparked the racism investigation, Qasim Sheikh and Majid Haq, was one of Luthra’s critics and tensions between the pair continued on social media following his resignation.
Anwar wrote: “My clients @MajidHaq @sheikhyssj1 believe the Chair failed to deliver & engage, resignations by key members of EDI group speak for themselves- Meanwhile ‘institutional racism’ & the culture of ‘victim blaming’ continues- @CricketScotland ‘tokenism’ doesn’t work.”
Luthra responded: “100+ meetings in 6 months is a demonstration of engagement. I know you and your clients would have liked all meetings to be with you and the lobby group, but that is not how the world works.
“You can continue to bully and manipulate sportscotland into making decisions. But I will not tolerate being bullied and publicly mocked by you and your clients any longer.”
Luthra also clashed with Paul Reddish of Running Out Racism on Twitter, the latter writing: “Please start taking some responsibility, or leave us all in peace. Our sport deserves better.”
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