YORKSHIRE CCC chief executive Mark Arthur last night lamented a sad day for cricket after club chairman Steve Denison resigned in the wake of the BHS audit.
Denison, the partner at PwC who signed off the BHS accounts days before the retail giant’s sale by Sir Philip Green in 2015, was recently banned from audit work for 15 years and fined £500,000, a figure reduced to £325,000 following an agreement to settle early.
It effectively left his position on the Yorkshire board untenable, with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s fit and proper persons test stating that an individual cannot serve on a board or general committee if they have been suspended by a professional body.
BHS collapsed in 2016, with PwC hit with a record £10m penalty later reduced to £6.5m.
Denison, who took over as Yorkshire chairman from current ECB chairman Colin Graves in 2015, having previously served on the club’s board, said that he was “heartbroken” and did not “want my situation to be a distraction”.
It comes as a big blow to the board and to Arthur personally, who said that Denison had “achieved so much” and that Yorkshire would not be building their new main stand without his efforts. Arthur said that the board will meet “in short order” to appoint a successor.
To say I’m heartbroken is a massive understatement at what has already been an incredibly difficult time for me and my family.Steve Denison
In an open letter, Denison said: “Despite enjoying wide-ranging support from the club’s stakeholders, including its directors, staff and members, I believe the ECB’s regulations mean that I’m unable to remain in post and I don’t want my situation to be a distraction at a time when cricket is going through a crucial period of change.
“It’s been a huge privilege to serve YCCC as a non-executive director since 2012, including the past three as chairman, and to say I’m heartbroken is a massive understatement at what has already been an incredibly difficult time for me and my family.
“On the field, back-to-back County Championship titles and the continual development and nurturing of fine Yorkshire and England players will forever hold a special place in my heart.
“I’m also extremely proud of the progress which we have achieved off the field, including sustained growth in membership in each of the past six years, the successful turnaround of the club’s finances, restructuring the board to include the appointment of the first female and South Asian directors in the club’s 155-year history and the ongoing redevelopment of Emerald Headingley, securing its future as a world-class venue that will continue to stage international cricket including the 2019 and 2023 Ashes.
“I’ve worked hard to be open and accessible to all YCCC’s stakeholders, especially our members where I’ve highlighted challenges, answered questions and proposed solutions for debate. Our AGMs have been great fun and a wonderful showcase for the incredible passion that exists for cricket in Yorkshire.
“I’ve also engaged in a positive, friendly way with the media. We’ve not always agreed, but I’ve consistently had the best interests of the game at heart, including when encouraging everyone to maintain an open mind about the future of cricket. I love history and tradition, but am also a fierce moderniser; I believe the game is better for open debate.
“I love Yorkshire County Cricket Club and am immensely proud of the tiny part I’ve played in its history as well as the wider game. I owe a huge debt to everyone involved in cricket across Yorkshire for their passion, commitment and hard work, and hope one day circumstances will allow me to return to cricket and continue to serve the game.”