Leeds Rhinos to meet stadium sponsors after Emerald end Headingley naming deal over Yorkshire racism row

LEEDS RHINOS will meet Emerald Publishing next week following the company’s decision to sever ties with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and remove their name from Headingley Stadium.

Wednesday, 3rd November 2021, 5:39 pm

The Bingley-based group yesterday ended their sponsorship of Yorkshire over the Azeem Rafiq racism row.

Emerald have pledged to “continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself” and it is not clear what effect – if any – their announcement will have on Rhinos, who are a completely separate club.

Rhinos’ chief executive Gary Hetherington said: “I have been made aware of that decision by Emerald.

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Leeds Rhinos' Emerald Headingley Stadium. Picture: Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

“We have a routine meeting, previously arranged, next week so we will get more information then.”

The sponsors’ decision heaps more pressure on Yorkshire, who have been slammed for their handling of a report into alleged institutional racism at the club.

A statement from Emerald confirmed: “We have taken the decision to remove our brand association with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Headingley Stadium.

“We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has.”

Leeds Rhinos chief executive Gary Hetherington. Picture: James Hardisty.

Emerald have held the naming rights for the full stadium complex – as well as the separate rugby and cricket grounds – since November 1, 2017.

The joint North Stand, which overlooks both arenas, also carries the Emerald name.

The statement stressed: “Our intention remains to continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself, which is also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby, as we believe this supports the aims of diversity and inclusion in sport along with a range of charitable community endeavours.

“Emerald will however no longer sponsor Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

“We hope that YCCC will listen and respond with serious acton to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”