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Yorkshire members vote in reforms which pave way for Headingley internationals

Yorkshire are now set to host two international matches at Headingley this summer (Danny Lawson/PA)
Yorkshire are now set to host two international matches at Headingley this summer (Danny Lawson/PA)

Structural reforms at Yorkshire were approved by the club’s members on Wednesday night which paves the way for Headingley to stage England matches this summer.

At an extraordinary general meeting, the governance changes ordered by the England and Wales Cricket Board, following Yorkshire’s mishandling of ex-player Azeem Rafiq’s racism claims, were voted through.

“The Members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club tonight overwhelmingly passed three special resolutions at an Extraordinary General Meeting (EGM) held in the Long Room at Headingley,” a statement read.

“The club can now continue to drive the right approach through essential governance reforms and meets conditions set by the England and Wales Cricket Board for the return of international and major matches at their ground.”

Hosting international matches provides a significant chunk of Yorkshire’s revenue but that privilege was suspended last November by the ECB after Rafiq’s testimony to a parliamentary committee about the racial abuse he suffered in his two stints at the club between 2008 and 2018.

Roger Hutton and Mark Arthur stepped down as chair and chief executive respectively while a total of 16 members of staff, including first-team head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon, were removed from their roles.

Lord Kamlesh Patel was installed as new chair and tasked with overseeing wholesale cultural and structural changes, while former Yorkshire and England fast bowler Darren Gough has filled Moxon’s position on an interim basis.

The ECB last month announced the club’s international rights would be restored on the proviso of conditions being met, including “resolving the issues relating to rule changes and decisions at the club” and the ratification of Patel as chair.

Complicating matters has been the cancellation of two previous EGMs by former chair and current vice-president Robin Smith, who has repeatedly labelled Patel’s role as invalid.

A minimum two-thirds threshold was required for the changes to be rubber-stamped, and that was safely negotiated with resolution one passed with 85 per cent of the votes, resolution two receiving 83 per cent and resolution three also getting 85 per cent of the votes with 178 members in attendance to witness a pivotal night.

Yorkshire will therefore be able to host England’s third Test against New Zealand in June, as planned, as well as a one-day international against South Africa in July.

“We welcome the outcome of this EGM and thank the members for their full and proper consideration, an open exchange of views, and their votes,” Lord Patel said.

“It is an overwhelming vote for positive change. This support will help Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be an inclusive and welcoming place and gives us the clarity and certainty we need to keep building this great club.

“Yorkshire has now met the ECB’s conditions for the return of international cricket and, working with them, we’ll deliver some great events here at Headingley this summer.

“We’re looking forward to the start of the season, for all our teams and for cricket at all levels right across this county.”

Rafiq welcomed the news on Twitter and stated he was “excited for the future of our club”.

An ECB spokesperson added: “We are pleased that Yorkshire members have given their overwhelming support to these reforms.

“This is an important step forward in bringing about real change and setting the club on course for a more inclusive future.

“We welcome the progress made by Lord Patel so far, as well as his commitment to making the club one which everyone, from all backgrounds, can be proud of.

“With these governance reforms now having been passed, we are satisfied that international cricket can now be staged at Headingley this summer.

“However, there is much work still to be done at Yorkshire and it is important that the plans set out so far are now delivered. We will continue to monitor progress closely.

“Our regulatory investigation into the complaints brought by Azeem Rafiq, which is separate to this process, remains ongoing and we will update on this in due course.”