Crucial vote at Yorkshire Cricket Club in wake of Azeem Rafiq racism row

Members are being being asked to vote through changes at the club brought in following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal. Credit: ITV News

Yorkshire County Cricket Club is facing a pivotal day as it seeks to rebuild after the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal sparked the biggest crisis in its history.

Tonight, members at the Headingley club will be asked to vote through changes to the structure of the board that will dictate its future direction.

Why is the vote taking place?

Amid a raft of sackings and resignations, Yorkshire lost its right to host lucrative international matches in the wake of its handling of racism allegations made by former player Azeem Rafiq.

Lord Kamlesh Patel was subsequently hired as chair in November to help oversee wholesale changes.

And the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) has given Lord Patel its backing ahead of today's extraordinary general meeting.

Lord Kamlesh Patel has been tasked with leading the club out of the crisis. Credit: Yorkshire Cricket Club

But the club has been told that the stadium won't regain the right to host England's Test Match against New Zealand in June or any other international matches unless changes are voted through by its.

These included "resolving the issues relating to rule changes and decisions at the club" and "including the removal of Graves Trust powers".

Why does it matter?

International matches are of huge financial importance to the club. In 2019 £10.5million of the £18million made by the club was generated through international tickets and hospitality sales.

Continued exile from those big games would be disastrous.

And it's more than just the club who are hoping that Test matches return – many local businesses benefit hugely from the influx of fans on match days.

But to further complicate matters, two previous efforts to hold an EGM have been cancelled while ex-chairman Robin Smith, who still remains vice-president, has publicly deemed the new chairmanship of Lord Patel invalid.

However, Martin Darlow, an ECB board member who has worked to support Yorkshire since November, said in a blog post on Wednesday: "I firmly believe that Kamlesh is the right person to lead Yorkshire to a new future.

"With a strong team supporting him and a clear path for future change, the club can unite again.

"Our hope is that unity will prevail and the members of Yorkshire County Cricket Club will come together and vote with future-focused intent at the forthcoming EGM."

How many people can vote and when will we know the result?

According to the club, there are more than 3,000 members eligible to vote.

Many have already done so via letter, with the others able to vote in person at the EGM.

The meeting starts at 6pm, although it is unclear what time the result will be announced.

Azeem Rafiq

What's Azeem Rafiq's view?

Rafiq told ITV News that if the vote goes through he believes it could be the beginning of a new and inclusive Yorkshire.

He said: "Ultimately it's up to the members about whether they want to be on the right side of history and what they want the club that they are associated with to look like.

"I think it should be pretty simple, but of course, as we have seen nothing, in this case, has been simple.

"I just hope that they see altogether that a brighter, more inclusive Yorkshire is going to bring more success and make it a better place for everyone."

A total of 16 members of staff have been sacked since Lord Patel was brought in - including Director of Cricket Martyn Moxon and Head Coach Andrew Gale.