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ECB lifts suspension on Yorkshire County Cricket Club hosting internationals subject to key requirements being met

Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans, 17th Match
©Lahore Qalandars vs Multan Sultans, 17th Match
 

The England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has lifted the suspension on Yorkshire County Cricket Club (YCCC) hosting international and major cricket matches at Headingley. The decision follows a rigorous review of progress made against several criteria set out in November 2021 to tackle racism at the club.

The Board acknowledged the hard work and good progress made by the Club but made their decision conditional on further requirements they wished to be implemented by 31 March 2022. These are:

  • Resolving the issues relating to rules changes and decisions at the club which have been subject to procedural flaws.
  • Amendments to club rules relating to the appointment and operation of the Board, including removal of Graves Trust powers.

At a formal meeting with YCCC, the Board reviewed a full written submission from the Club, as well as an independent assessment from the Good Governance Institute & Howard Kennedy LLP.

Overall, the ECB Board assessed that Yorkshire Country Cricket Club is able to:

  • Show a demonstrable commitment to building a culture of equity, diversity and inclusion;
  • Evidence that it is adopting a zero-tolerance approach to discrimination;
  • Commit to identifying and tackling historic cases of discrimination;
  • Ensure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a welcoming environment for everyone.

Headingley will now host England's third LV= Insurance Test against New Zealand in June this year as well as the Royal London One-Day International with South Africa in July.

YCCC has also made a number of longer-term commitments including: fully delivering on governance reforms; appointing a new Board to drive and be accountable for the change required; making Headingley a welcoming and inclusive experience on match days, including a zero-tolerance approach to incidents of discrimination; significant changes to the County Age Group Pathway for boys and girls to remove barriers to progression; and delivering on all other commitments in the ECB’s 12-point plan to tackle discrimination.

Progress will be monitored quarterly by the ECB, alongside the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

Barry O’Brien, Interim Chair and Cricket Non-Executive Director at the ECB, said:

“The Board welcomed the hard work and actions taken by Yorkshire County Cricket Club towards putting the Club on a new path. Alongside the progress already made, we considered many factors in reaching our decision. Amongst them, the impact on fans who have bought tickets in good faith and the young people who will benefit from Yorkshire’s improved outreach and pathway provisions. Finally, the Board was mindful that the return of international cricket will support continued change and progress at the Club.’’

‘’I very much hope that the traumatic events that have taken place at Yorkshire over the past several months and years will act as a catalyst for increasing the pace of change throughout the game.’’

Professor The Lord Patel of Bradford OBE, Chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, said:

“I welcome this decision and thank the Board of the ECB for supporting the return of international matches at Headingley once again. We have worked night and day to bring about tangible change at Yorkshire, and the removal of the sanctions has validated and reignited our drive for positive progress.

“I would like to thank the ECB for its support, and its robust challenge throughout the process. It has been a difficult period for Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and there remains a lot of work to be done, but the level of scrutiny has pushed us towards implementing action which will not only transform this club but can lead the way forward for the sport as a whole.”

Marcial Boo, Chief Executive at the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:

“There is no place for racism in sport or in any part of our society. In our meetings with Lord Patel at Yorkshire County Cricket Club, and with the England and Wales Cricket Board, we encouraged them to take bold steps in eradicating racism. We welcome today’s announcement as a clear sign that progress is being made.

“We will now closely monitor progress against their action plan, which will involve us attending quarterly checkpoint meetings with the YCCC and ECB. If progress is not made quickly enough, we will consider further legal action.

“We hope that other cricket clubs will take this opportunity to examine what they are doing to tackle discrimination and harassment, so that no one involved in cricket, whether as an amateur or a professional, suffers the racism that others sadly faced in the past."

ends

Notes to editors

Today the ECB is publishing the ten criteria and timescales (communicated to YCCC on 18 November 2021) which informed the Board’s evaluation.

Category

Objective

Detail criteria

Summary of progress

Governance

To ensure that YCCC establishes the foundations for meaningful change at the club through strong governance, clear accountabilities and a diverse, high quality Board that will drive through the change required.

  • An external Governance Review, with the objective of meeting the Sport England Governance Code Standards.
  • Governance reform to start immediately following the Review and to be implemented as soon as possible, to put in place new Board and sub-committee arrangements.
  • ECB approval of shortlists in relation to future Board appointments.

Independent governance review completed by GGI and HK LLP. If the recommendations of this report are implemented it would make YCCC compliant with the County Governance Code and Sport England Tier 3 standards

YCCC are making progress on appointing a new Board and planning the formal processes that will enable governance changes to be made. This includes an agreement from the Graves Family Trust on the removal of their current powers in relation to the Board

EDI

To ensure that YCCC establishes and delivers on a clear plan for improving EDI in Yorkshire which is based on listening to, understanding and addressing the social, cultural, economic and physical barriers to participation from grass roots through to professional cricket in the County.

  • An agreed approach to YCCC implementing an EDI Plan.
  • Commission an Inclusivity Review into the culture at YCCC, to understand the culture at the club and steps needed to improve it.
  • Following the Inclusivity Review, set the YCCC objectives which prioritise the delivery of EDI reform and ensure that the CEO has the necessary resources to deliver the plans.

YCCC have developed a full, localised EDI action plan, building on the ECB framework. This includes plans for an Inclusivity Review which will develop the research, understanding and data required to drive the required changes in culture – with the EDI plan to be updated once this is complete and clear KPIs against which to measure progress created.

Match Experience

To ensure that YCCC delivers a fully inclusive and welcoming match day experience for fans, players and all key stakeholders involved.

  • Compliance with all existing ECB Directives and Regulations for International and major match venues (as set out in Annex 1). This will include complying with further changes as amended from time to time.
  • A robust approach to ensuring a zero- tolerance approach to racism or other discriminatory behaviour by spectators
  • Confirmation of any required disciplinary action in relation to any players or employees involved in the findings of the Azeem Rafiq report
  • If required, compliance with an Independent Business Review IBR process to establish the financial position at Yorkshire.

YCCC have developed plans to create a more inclusive match day experience – including a zero tolerance approach to discrimination. This includes a pilot of Kick It Out’s in-ground reporting app, increased training for stewards, an extension of the role of the Yorkies to create a ‘home to ground’ experience to set the tone for behaviour and programmes to increase attendance from current under-represented groups. This needs testing in a match day setting.

People

To ensure YCCC has addressed the previous failure to act against employees involved in the findings of the Azeem Rafiq report

YCCC have confirmed action taken.

Finance

To ensure there is a clear understanding of the financial position of YCCC.

ECB has reviewed YCCC’s finances

Conditions to be met by 31 March:

  • Resolving the issues relating to rules changes and decisions at the club which have been subject to procedural flaws.
  • Amendments to club rules relating to the appointment and operation of the Board, including removal of Graves Trust’s powers.

YCCC’s ongoing commitments:

  • Resolve any issues relating to rules changes and decisions at the club which have been subject to procedural flaws.
  • Amendments to club rules relating to appointment and operation of the Board ratified through an EGM.
  • Appoint a new Board to drive and be accountable for the change.
  • Deliver short-term governance reforms.
  • Fully delivering on all governance reforms recommended by the Good Governance Institute & Howard Kennedy LLP.
  • Delivery of (and demonstrable progress against) a full local EDI plan.
  • Deliver on making Headingley a welcoming and inclusive experience on match days.
  • Significant changes to the county age group Pathway for boys and girls to remove barriers to progression.
  • Delivering on all commitments in the ECB’s 12-point plan

About The Equality and Human Rights Commission

  • The Equality and Human Rights Commission is the regulatory body responsible for enforcing the Equality Act 2010. Its duties include reducing inequality, eliminating discrimination and promoting and protecting human rights.
  • The Commission’s uses a range of powers; from providing advice and guidance, publishing information and undertaking research.
  • When these methods are ineffective, it uses a range of enforcement powers which are set out in the Equality Act 2006.
  • Depending on the circumstance, enforcement powers can include securing a legally binding agreement, launching a formal investigation, or bringing about court action.