Yorkshire chairman Kamlesh Patel said on Thursday he had received “phenomenal racist” letters following allegations of racist abuse and intimidation by Azeem Rafiq while playing for the county. On the day Test cricket returned to Headingley’s Yorkshire headquarters, Patel also revealed the county would have gone bankrupt without England playing Leeds again. Pakistan-born former off-spinner Rafiq first raised allegations of racism and bullying in September 2020, linked to his two spells in Yorkshire.
Rafiq gave evidence to a parliamentary committee last year, causing growing pressure on Yorkshire over his earlier failure to take disciplinary action.
This eventually led to a mass elimination of board personalities and senior staff.
The England and Wales Cricket Board have also threatened to pull Headingley’s lucrative internationals unless changes are made.
The reforms promoted by new chairman Patel have averted what could have been a financial disaster for Yorkshire.
But the matter is far from resolved, with ECB disciplinary charges brought against the club and “a number of individuals”, whom officials have yet to name.
Patel, speaking on the first day of the third Test between England and New Zealand at Headingley on Thursday, was asked on TNZT Radio if he had received racist mail.
“Phenomenaly racist,” he replied. “We have a very small but very vocal group of individuals who do not accept that racism has happened at this club.
“I think we have to get past that denial. Racism happens in society. It certainly happened at this club.”
Patel, however, added: “90-95% of the members and people I meet on the street and on the train have said thank you for doing what you do and have been extremely supportive.
“We know there’s misogyny, discrimination, power imbalances and those things happen. It went wrong here.
“We had to change for the better and I honestly think we are.”
Asked if Yorkshire would have gone bankrupt had they been stripped of Test cricket as punishment, Patel replied: “Put simply, yes. I think we would have.
“If the Test matches or the international matches did not come back here, we would go bankrupt.”
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