I write this the day before the Digital, Culture Media and Sport Select Committee formal meeting, chaired by Julian Knight, on Tuesday 16 November which will hear oral evidence on Sports Governance and issues raised by Azeem Rafiq in relation to racism and bullying at the the Club.
In addition to Azem the former Chair Richard Hutton and former CEO Mark Arthur are due to give evidence (although it is is increasingly doubtful that Arthur will turn up) but Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon will not do so. Currently signed off sick due to stress he is the only one of the three at the head of the organisation not to fall on his sword.
It is hard too see how such a renowned tough guy could be struggling with stress, but if he is then it has to be hoped that he recovers soon – and leaves the club – if he isn’t then it speaks volumes for the character of an individual who would use mental health as a reason to avoid giving evidence in a case brought against the club by someone who has suffered with significant mental health issues as a result of proven acts of racism and bullying by the club and a number of named officials.
Only Moxon knows what the situation is and we have no option other than to believe him, but from the conversations and opinion “on the street” I think it is a fair summary that his word carries little credibility amongst many a member or fan.
For all involved and observing it is hard to see how tomorrow will be anything other than another sad and shameful day for all involved with the club. For Rafiq it will hopefully bring an element of closure, his ‘day in court’, an opportunity to ‘tell all’ and then move on with life, which will hopefully include working with Yorkshire County Cricket Club to rebuild better and stronger. For Hutton and Arthur it would be an opportunity to ‘draw a line in the sand’ and move on. Whether they do so with honesty and contriteness or self promotion and denial remains to be seen.
Amongst those watching will be Lord Patel. It is to be hoped that he wont learn anything new from the meeting, but it will give him an indication of whether the mountain he has been climbing has got any bigger, or if the summit is in site and he can concentrate in putting his words into action.
To date Lord Patel has been impressive in both word and action, although to be fair there has by necessity been more of the former than the later to date, and the actions needed weren’t exactly hard to identify but he has done them in a calm, assured and believable way.
For many his appointment has been seen as ‘tokenism’ and many a member feels aggrieved that he was appointed with (yet again) no members involvement. I can see why people have these opinions but I don’t agree with them.
That said if I could offer Lord Patel one piece of advice it would be to set a date (the 2022 AGM would be suitable) to give the members an opportunity to have their say on how he has gone about rebuilding the Club. It will take time, and it wont satisfy everyone so 2022 seems a reasonable period of time to review progress. The main point though is giving members the knowledge that they will have their say.
It is no secret that I am involved in trying to force through an EGM at Yorkshire Cricket Club (firstname.lastname@example.org with name and membership number if you want to support), and whilst this was set up before Lord Patel got involved I would still urge members to support this. For too long members have not been given a meaningful voice and the future of the club still rests in the hands of an institutionally racist Club and a morally bankrupt ECB – a rock and a hard place if ever there was one – and I genuinely think the members need to be actively involved in the rebuilding of the Club. I have sympathy with the view that this could (should) be addressed at the AGM but a) I am not sure the Club will be in a position to do much by then, b) I think this is such a significant matter that it warrants a separate meeting and c) I think a combined weight of the Club and it’s members will be required to address the concerns of the ECB.
The reality is that it will be easier to cancel a scheduled EGM than convene one at the last minute if things are not going to plan!
I am being asked fairly regularly what I would like for members. Obviously I can only speak for myself based on my own experiences and views, but these do include many a conversation and exchange of views with members.
The easy answer is to be actively listened to and to be involved in the rebuilding. This would put an onus on the members to ‘have something constructive to offer’ and for the Club to provide an inclusive and meaningful structure to allow this.
The club has a Members Committee so this is a good place to start. My intention is not to offend in any way but this Committee is too small (it currently has 2 appointed members and 3 elected members with 1 Board nominated member making up the committee of 6) and not inclusive enough in my view. It needs to be Chaired by a Member, with a Vice Chair from the main Board. I would like to see two Full Board Members in attendance, all the communities that Yorkshire County Cricket Club interact with represented, and 2 or 3 of it’s members sit on the Full Board. The concept for the committee is to act as a conduit between the active membership and the club, but that is not enough. It needs to have specific roles and objectives relative to the running of the club, a hands on presence and some responsibility.
As ever I am more than happy to discuss this or any other suggestion, ideas, or thoughts.
I will leave you with the details of the recently announced Whistleblowing Hotline. I hope you don’t need it, but if you use it I wish you well.