Yorkshire promotion hopes ended by 48-point deduction and £400,000 fine over Rafiq racism scandal

Yorkshire County Cricket Club's Headingley Stadium

The county side expressed disappointment at the decision which affects players and staff “who were not responsible for the situation” – PA/Danny Lawson

Yorkshire have been hit with a 48-point deduction in this season’s County Championship for the racism scandal that engulfed the club, all but ending their slim hopes of promotion from Division Two.

Having admitted four charges, Yorkshire accepted the sanctions from the Cricket Discipline Commission, but expressed “disappointment” that a points deduction “which affects players and staff at the Club, who were not responsible for the situation”. The punishment also included a £400,000 fine, three-quarters of which is suspended for two years.

Having been relegated in 2022, Yorkshire are set for another season in Division Two. After 10 matches this season, they have won just one but, remarkably, were not totally out of the race for the second promotion place (Durham, with whom they drew this week, top the table by 52 points), but the deduction takes them to the bottom of Division Two, effectively out of range.

The punishment brings to a close a three-year chapter in the club’s history, which started with allegations of racism from former player Azeem Rafiq in August 2020. It has seen a total overhaul in leadership both on and off the field, and a series of sponsors turning their back on the club. The England and Wales Cricket Board chief executive, Richard Gould, praised Rafiq.

Azeem Rafiq - Yorkshire promotion hopes ended by 48-point deduction and £400,000 fine over Rafiq racism scandal

Former Yorkshire cricket player Azeem Rafiq submitted a legal claim against the county side alleging he had been the victim of racism – PA/James Manning

“These were serious charges relating to racism over a prolonged period. There can be no place for racism in our game, and the penalties announced by the Cricket Discipline Commission mark the end of a thorough disciplinary process. No one should have to experience what Azeem Rafiq went through in cricket, and we once again thank him for his courage in speaking out.

“Since this hearing took place, the Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket has published its report which demonstrates just how much there still is for our game to do in order to stamp out discrimination and become the inclusive sport we all want to be. We must work together as a game to learn from the events that led to this case, and to respond thoroughly to that report.

“We recognise that Yorkshire County Cricket Club has made significant progress since Azeem came forward, first under Lord Patel’s leadership and since then under its current management, and is committed to becoming an inclusive club. They have set the club on a path to a much brighter and more inclusive future, and we will continue to support the new leadership at Yorkshire to build on the progress made so far.”

The Cricket Discipline Commission, which sits at arm’s length from ECB, had a panel made up of Tim O’Gorman (chair), Professor Seema Patel and Mark Milliken-Smith KC. Yorkshire’s charges were for mishandling an investigation, a mass deletion of emails, a failure to take adequate action over complaints of racism which were raised to the club in 2017 and 2018, and a failure to address the systemic use of racist and/or discriminatory language at Yorkshire over a prolonged period.

“At least next year we know where we stand,” said Yorkshire coach Ottis Gibson. “We have four games left in the Championship this season, and that’s 96 points that we can play for. We’ll try and win the next four games. That’s all we’re trying to do – win every game we play.”

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