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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Matthew Cooper

PCA accuse ex-Yorkshire chairman of 'endangering club's future' after racism scandal

The Professional Cricketers Association (PCA) has accused former Yorkshire chairman Robin Smith of "endangering the future" of the county with his attempts to block major reforms in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal.

PCA chairman Julian Metherell described Smith's actions as "corrosive" and "absolute madness". Yorkshire are set to host an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on March 31, with members set to vote on proposed reforms which would lead to the ECB reinstating their right to host England matches.

The ECB initially banned the club from staging "international or major matches" back in November over their handling of Rafiq's racism allegations. However, they announced last month that Yorkshire's ban had been conditionally lifted, providing several major reforms are agreed to by members.

Current chairman Lord Patel has been attempting to spearhead change at the club, but Smith has been attempting to thwart his efforts. He has called Patel's chairmanship invalid, claimed his time in charge has been "riddled with mistakes and damage" and succeeded in getting the EGM postponed twice before due to 'procedural' issues.

Smith has also taken aim at the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) committee, accusing them of "improper behaviour" and "unlawful interference". In a letter to DCMS chair Julian Knight, Smith claimed the committee "pressured" the ECB to sanction Yorkshire by "threatening to determine that the ECB was not a fit and proper governing body for cricket".

In response to Smith, Metherell has warned that his actions are threatening the very future of Yorkshire as their ban on hosting England games is unlikely to be fully lifted if reforms do not pass. This, Lord Patel has warned, would leave the club facing a "major financial crisis".

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Metherell said: "The PCA are appalled and astonished by the actions of Robin Smith, whose behaviour is combative and corrosive. He is endangering the future of one of the greatest clubs in England, and the careers of many cricketers and coaches.

Former Yorkshire chairman Robin Smith (PA Archive/PA Images)

"If the proposed reforms are not voted through at the EGM then the future of a great club is at risk. It's absolute madness.

"People are losing sight of the fact that we have had serious allegations of bullying and racism upheld. And now we are seeing repeated incidences of threatening behaviour against Kamlesh Patel, who is trying to sort the mess out.

"It's completely unacceptable and we cannot allow these destructive elements to prevail. The game is in the grip of an existential crisis and it's time everyone parked their egos at the door." Smith has twice served as Yorkshire's chairman from 2002-2005 and then from 2018-2020.

According to a report from the Cricketer, Smith was in charge when Rafiq and current England star Adil Rashid first complained about racism at the club. The report states the club did not investigate their allegations at the time, with Smith claiming the decision came after a request from Rafiq.

A spokesperson for the ECB also condemned Smith's actions, saying: "The ECB board is deeply concerned about reports of division at Yorkshire CCC. Given all that we have heard from Azeem and others about the club, it has been absolutely clear that reform is needed.

"Lord Patel has set out a significant and serious plan to make Yorkshire CCC a modern and diverse club capable of representing and engaging all communities in Yorkshire. We want to see all parties work together to support Lord Patel in the reform package he has set out. It is not acceptable for anyone to stand in the way of progress at YCCC."

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