Yorkshire CCC chairman Roger Hutton resigns over Azeem Rafiq racism scandal

Yorkshire chairman Roger Hutton has announced he is resigning from the club in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

Friday, 5th November 2021, 8:15 am
Updated Friday, 5th November 2021, 11:22 am
Roger Hutton has resigned as chairman of Yorkshire CCC.

Mr Hutton, who only became chairman last year, issued a lengthy statement this morning following a dramatic week for the club in which they have come under major political and financial pressure over their handling of the affair and decision not to take any disciplinary action against any employee after a panel found former player Mr Rafiq had been the victim of racial harassment and bullying.

In it, he says there has been "a constant unwillingness from the executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward" over the affair. The executive members of the board include chief executive Mark Arthur and director of cricket Martyn Moxon. While not directly named in the statement, he said they should resign.

He also claimed that there had been a "reluctance to act" over the matter from the ECB.

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Mr Hutton said some other non-executive board members have also resigned.

Mr Hutton said: "Today I announce my resignation as Chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, with immediate effect. It is with great sadness to leave a Club I was immensely proud to serve and have loved since watching my first game from the old County Stand at the age of seven.

"The Club has proud traditions and status as one of sports biggest brands and, as Chairman, I had a vision for our Club which was shared by the Non-Executive members of the Board - we truly believed we could make the cultural changes to take it out of the past and into the future.

"In August 2020, a former Yorkshire player and the youngest captain in the Club’s history - Azeem Rafiq - gave an interview to the well-respected cricketing publication, Wisden. In it he recounted his experience of playing Club cricket at Yorkshire, the racism he encountered and the mental anguish this caused him and his family.

"This was a man who was calling for change, meaningful change for other young men and women facing the same challenges he faced in the sport he loved.

"Azeem left the Club in August 2018, 18 months before I joined the Board in April 2020. I have never met Azeem and was not at the club during the period he was employed. I know however, that when someone makes claims as serious as his, they need to be investigated and changes need to be made.

"I would like to take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to Azeem.

"The Club should have recognised at the time the serious allegations of racism. I am sorry that we could not persuade Executive members of the Board to recognise the gravity of the situation and show care and contrition.

"I remain disappointed that legal restrictions, including an ongoing employment tribunal, have prevented the investigation report from being published and look forward to the time that everyone can see its recommendations. I hope for it to be published as soon as possible.

"I want to be clear that when I was made aware of Azeem Rafiq’s allegations, I immediately reached out to the ECB to ask for their help and intervention to support a robust inquiry. I was saddened when they declined to help as I felt it was a matter of great importance for the game as a whole. It is

a matter of record that I have continually expressed my frustration at the ECB’s reluctance to act.

"There has been a constant unwillingness from the Executive members of the Board and senior management at the Club to apologise, and to accept that there was racism, and to look forward.

"For much of my time at the Club, I experienced a culture that refuses to accept change or challenge.

"During my time as Chairman, I take responsibility for failing to persuade them to take appropriate and timely action. This frustration has been shared by all of the Non-Executive members of the Board, some of whom have also now resigned. I now call for those Executive members of the Board

to resign, to make way for a new path for the Club I love so much.

"I will of course continue to fully cooperate with the ECB and the invitation to give evidence to the House of Commons Select Committee.

"The Club has some brilliant people and has done much to be proud of, particularly the Yorkshire Cricket Foundation, and I want to see more grassroots education in the game to put an end to racism for good.

"I look forward to the time when Yorkshire County Cricket Club is a great Club again and will always support those who share my love for the Club and wish our supporters and team well."

The ECB confirmed Yorkshire had contacted the governing body at the start of the investigation but said they had to retain independence from the process.

A spokesperson said: "Yorkshire CCC did reach out to us at the beginning of the investigation with a request that we partner with them on exploring Azeem's allegations of racism and bullying against the club.

"Our role is to operate as a regulator across the entire game. We must act independently of any club investigations, should we ever be required to intervene as regulator – either during or after.

"The reason why our governance is structured in this manner, is perfectly demonstrated in the way that these issues have played-out at Yorkshire County Cricket Club."

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