Yorskhire chair Lord Patel raises past Headingley fears as he opens up on racism storm


Lord Patel has revealed Yorkshire would have gone bankrupt if they had not made changes following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal and have been allowed to stage England matches

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Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel welcomed international back to a supposedly more inclusive Headingley by revealing that he still receives ‘phenomenally racist’ letters in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq affair.

Patel admitted that there remains people connected with the club who do not believe that any racism occured here despite the testimony of Rafiq at a parliamentary hearing last year.

And yet if it wasn’t for the efforts of Patel and a new leadership structure to change the way the club was operating, it is highly unlikely that this Test match would be going ahead – which in turn could have seen Yorkshire cricket club go to the wall.

“I don’t think people have realized,” Patel said. “I think we would have (gone bust). It was because of that panic situation and caught in the headlights that people did not look further than if Test matches or international matches did not come back here we were going to go bankrupt.

“We literally were. If you had seen all the evidence I have seen and where we had to drive to, you would put your mortgage on that we were not going to get this back.

“We worked phenomenally hard seven days a week and had a nine-week window within which to change the environment and make a big difference. Ninety to ninety-five percent of members and people I meet have said ‘thank you for doing what you are doing’ and have been extremely supportive.

Yorkshire chair Lord Patel has revealed he still gets “phenomenally racist” letters in the wake of the club’s racism scandal
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Image:

AFP via Getty Images)

“I do have a small but substantial bag of letters that if I was to take to the police I think people would be prosecuted. Phenomenally racist letters.

“We have a very small but very vocal group of individuals that do not accept that racism happened at this club. I think we have to move beyond that denial. ”

The ninety percent who were happy to vote through the changes at board level also appear to have voted with their feet in returning to the ground for the Test. Fears that the public would stay away have not been realized with each of the first four days close to a sellout.

Former Yorkshire player Azeem Rafiq revealed he was subjected to racist abuse during his time at the club
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Image:

PRU / AFP via Getty Images)

Yorkshire and seven others including former England skipper Michael Vaughan have been charged with bringing the game into disrepute with their hearings scheduled for the autumn.

And Lord Patel’s hint about the amount of evidence that he has seen suggests that there could be more dark days ahead before the club can finally put a toxic past behind them. For now though, the sight of young and old cheering fans on their England men’s Test team provides a brief respite for a club still with demons to face.

“This game seemed a bit of a pipe dream,” added Patel. “When I first came into the job I was determined to make it happen and walking in this morning it really resonated.”

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