Yorkshire set to host England international games after structural reforms

Structural reforms at Yorkshire Cricket Club were approved on Thursday, paving a way for the club to host England matches this summer at Headingley.

Yorkshire were suspended from holding England fixtures in November 2021, following its handling of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

Yorkshire chair Lord Patel said an 'overwhelming vote for positive change' had taken place.

"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."

It will be a huge boost for Yorkshire who earn a large proportion of their revenue through international cricket.

Rafiq's testimony to a parliamentary committee about the racial abuse he suffered in his two stints at the club between 2008 and 2018 saw Roger Hutton and Mark Arthur stepped down as chair and chief executive respectively at Yorkshire.

In total, 16 members of staff, including head coach Andrew Gale and director of cricket Martyn Moxon stepped down from their roles.

Lord Kamlesh Patel was installed as the new chair while former England seamer Darren Gough has replaced Moxon 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.

A minimum of two-thirds threshold was required for the changes to be rubber-stamped, and that was negotiated convincingly. Resolution one receiving 85% of the votes while resolution two had 83% and resolution three got 85% of the votes as 178 members attended the hugely important night.

Yorkshire will now be able to host the third Test between England and New Zealand in June as originally scheduled alongside England vs South Africa in an ODI which takes place 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."

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