What started off as a potentially explosive week for Yorkshire County Cricket Club and cricket in general in England, fast became a highly emotive week for Cricket in general. Still despite all of this one group of people have continued to be ignored – the members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club.
There is no reason to think that Lord Patel is not aware of the need to engage with the members and he was clear during the Select Committee that he would start to engage with people that he knew he needed to talk to soon. He is still very much in early stages of controlling the fire, but at some time he will need to start to put it out and then repair the damage. Sooner rather than later hopefully, and I would suggest this side of Christmas for sure.
The membership hasn’t been totally ignored. Personally I have spoken to many media outlets over the last couple of weeks including Sky, BBC, ITV, Global Media, Associated Press and many Podcasts and local Radio Stations, but in general these have focussed on what I think about the current situation and a little about why we are calling for an EGM. Nothing really on the specifics of what could be done.
I touched on what I would hope for with regards better interaction with and involvement of the membership in a previous post but I will expand on this.
I should start by saying that absolutely no way do I talk for the members as a whole.
I would also comment that within c4,000 members it is fair to say that the majority of societies attitudes and views can be found.
I will say that attending Headingley is very much a ‘mixed bag’: on the one hand you can have a drink, a chat and a laugh with people from all walks of life, on the other hand sitting in the members areas can be an uncomfortable experience. As a broad generalisation I would draw the dividing line by age, and say that I have rarely heard direct personal racism, more a ‘way of speaking’ that highlights the generational. This is a difficult, but important, point to make really as in today’s society explaining why you understand is often taken as condoning. The fact is that as a general point of view my experience and judgment is that most of what I hear would fall into a category of “that is how we have always talked”. Am not saying that is right, and am not saying it isn’t an issue, but it does have a feel of being an educational issue rather than a deliberate and direct issue.
I think this is important as there is more hope of re-educating an individual than re-programming a long established belief.
I mention this because whilst this post is about the future involvement of the membership it has been impossible to talk to anyone (see above) these last couple of weeks without discussing racism.
My thought for what it is worth is that you will never eradicate racism 100%, nor will you stop people driving drunk, mugging someone or committing fraud. Society will always have issues and flaws, but that does not mean you ever stop trying, accept the status quo or (a phrase I hate) live under the “that’s the way it is these days” excuse.
It will take a lot of people, working very hard, facing some uncomfortable truths and putting previous prejudices and hurts to one side to move the club forward.
And that must include the members. Building from the ‘bottom upwards’, listening to all parties and understanding their issues, concerns and views has to be the starting point. People rarely respond well to being told how they have to think or behave. Brexit and COVID-19 have left the Country more divided, angry and broken than most of us can remember. Years of Top Down initiatives with Banners, TShirts, Statements and Symbols have made a difference, but they haven’t worked.
Building on this I think the fist thing the members need is an environment where they can get together, talk about the situation, and be given the opportunity to draft a document that the Board will commit to review promptly. This document should cover suggestions, demands, and promises. The membership needs to ensue that not only is it given the opportunity to talk, but that it has something worth listening to.
Personally just as I feel the Yorkshire County Cricket Club Board and Senior Management should all resign (which does not mean they can’t be re-elected but nobody should be allowed to not have to answer to their role in this issue) the Membership Committee should do the same. A clean slate, a fresh start, call it what you want but the assumption has to be that that the old way has not worked so let’s rip up the old processes and start again.
The Club should fund and facilitate this event. An opening statement from Lord Patel would not be unwelcome, but it would not be a Q&A session. An in/out and then leave the members to it. A facilitator would be needed.
An output from this meeting should be a recommendation as to how the members are represented. I would like to see a larger, more inclusive and representative members committee Chaired by a Member, with a Vice Chair from the main board and another representative from the main board (no excuses not to have one in attendance at each meeting). The Chair of this committee should also sit on the main board alongside two other elected members, so there is no excuse for all members not to be represented on the main board.
I am very much of the opinion that there is a HUGE divide between those that play and watch the cricket with those that currently administer the Club. The Old School, Big Corporate, Process Driven management of old is just not in touch with those that pay their memberships and buy the tickets. A grass roots game needs significant grass roots representation and involvement in the running of the club.
Two issues are critical for me: the membership needs to have an ongoing role and responsibility running the club. An EGM remains a very important objective not only in holding YCCC to account, but also in helping YCCC to hold the ECB to account.