Yorkshire’s board has “agreed to recommend” the loan offer from Colin Graves which is set to see the former chair make a controversial return to the club.
The financially-stricken club are in desperate need of cash to ward off the threat of administration.
Other options – including a mooted deal with former Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley – failed to fully materialise and have left the way clear for Graves to come back in at a club he served as chair between 2012 and 2015.
It has been reported that the Graves consortium’s offer – which still needs the green light from club members at an extraordinary general meeting – includes an immediate loan of £1million, followed quickly by new investment worth a further £4m.
Yorkshire said in a statement on Wednesday evening: “The Board of Yorkshire County Cricket Club has tonight agreed to recommend the loan agreement from Mr Colin Graves.
“The club will be sending a notice to members tomorrow (Thursday 11th January) ahead of an EGM which will outline the details of the offer as well as the resolutions and rule changes that are required to be ratified by members at the EGM.”
Graves’ return will be controversial, given the racism scandal which has engulfed Yorkshire in recent years, an episode which partially took place during his first stint in charge.
His money has saved the county from financial oblivion once before, when he first became involved in 2002, and he is now eager for a second act at Headingley, where debts to the Graves family trust are close to £15million.
Graves told talkSPORT on Tuesday: “The ball is in the Yorkshire board’s court to make a decision, but my interest is real, it’s absolute, and that’s for one reason and one reason only, and it’s to save Yorkshire County Cricket Club. None of us wants to see that institution disappear.
“It’s not in a good place so from my point of view that’s the reason I’m doing this. I’m passionate about the place and I want to make sure that Yorkshire County Cricket Club survives and prospers.”
Yorkshire last year admitted an England and Wales Cricket Board charge of failing to deal with systemic use of racist and discriminatory language over a period between 2004 and 2021, a time in which partially they were under Graves’ watch. He said last June in an interview with Sky Sports that no allegations of racism were raised to him.
Former Yorkshire spinner Azeem Rafiq, who blew the whistle on racism at the club in 2020 leading to investigations by the club and subsequently the ECB, wrote on social media it was “no longer my club” and added a broken heart emoji following the news on Wednesday night.
Earlier in the day, the local MP for Headingley made a last-ditch call on those who had the financial means to provide Yorkshire with an alternative option to approving the return of Graves.
Alex Sobel, the Labour MP for Leeds North West constituency which includes the county’s Headingley home, warned the Graves consortium he would oppose any move to make the club a private limited company which would remove members’ voting rights, and called on those with the means to assist him in achieving the goal of keeping Yorkshire as a members’ club.
“Yorkshire Cricket belonging to the members of the club and their ownership of the historic Yorkshire Cricket Club is at the heart of our county,” he told the PA news agency.
“I will oppose any attempt to take Yorkshire away from members and make it a private entity as it will be done for profit and weaken accountability and long-term viability.
“I call on anyone who wants to see the club stay with the members and safeguard the progress it has made who has means to help safeguard the club to come forward. I will work with anyone who has the same goals as me to save Yorkshire Cricket.”
Representatives of the Graves consortium have been approached for comment.