- By Dan Roan
- BBC sports editor
A sponsor of Yorkshire says it is “reviewing the situation very closely” amid mounting criticism of the expected return of former chairman Colin Graves.
Graves, 75, is heading up a consortium that is close to completing a takeover of the cash-strapped county.
Graves denies knowledge of any racist behaviour during his time at the club.
However, he was criticised by the ECB last year after suggesting some incidents were “banter”.
The BBC understands a Yorkshire board meeting is being held on Tuesday evening to discuss whether to recommend Graves’ offer for the club to members.
Yorkshire has defended its process in finding new financial backers, but the government has said it is “vital [the county] continues to make the culture change needed”.
And one of them, local tiling company Al Murad, has indicated that it is closely assessing the situation.
“We are in communication – and we expect to be communicated to – as the process of securing long-term funding is brought to a conclusion,” it said.
“On the strength of that information and communication, we will review how intrinsic is equity, equality, representation and inclusiveness at Yorkshire Cricket if Mr Graves does take the helm. The deep changes required will have a strong bearing on how we view any future engagement.”
Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport told the BBC that cricket “must be open to everyone and the government has consistently called for action to address the culture at Yorkshire CCC following the behaviour at the county”.
They added: “Following the publication of [the] report into equality in cricket, the ECB set out plans to deliver clear and sustained reform. It is vital the ECB deliver on their commitments, and that Yorkshire CCC continues to make the culture change needed.”
Yorkshire has been seeking fresh investment since losing sponsors over its handling of the racism scandal, while it also had to agree compensation packages with sacked staff who won claims for unfair dismissal. The ECB initially withdrew Yorkshire’s right to stage lucrative international matches at Headingley and only reinstated it after major governance changes were enacted.
Last year, Yorkshire revealed it needed to repay £14.9m to the family trust owned by Graves, one of its major creditors since a financial bail-out in 2002.
The club’s management told staff that they were “seriously considering” the deal with Graves’ consortium, having previously been linked with a rescue package from retail billionaire and former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley. It is expected that Graves would be reinstated as chairman.
Charity Sporting Equals has said his return would “make a mockery” of victims of racism.
But Yorkshire insisted a “rigorous process” by the board had been conducted “to ensure the club stays operational.”