Chair Roger Hutton has re-affirmed Yorkshire’s debt of gratitude to members, sponsors and staff for helping the club navigate through the challenges thrown up during the last 12 months surrounding Coronavirus.
Hutton was speaking whilst chairing his first Annual General Meeting on Saturday morning, conducted via Zoom.
The White Rose’s new chair, appointed this time last year, was joined on the half hour video call by chief executive Mark Arthur, finance director Paul Hudson and directors of men’s and women’s cricket Martyn Moxon and James Carr.
All spoke about the past year and their confidence for the future both on and off the field.
Hutton also revealed his expectation that the independent enquiry into institutional racism, brought against the club by former player Azeem Rafiq, will be concluded by the end of April or early May, saying: “Everyone knows there is no place for racism in life, let alone sport.
“Yorkshire is not the only organisation to be challenged over whether it is racist or not. There is scarcely an institution in society which is not challenged. That challenge is fair and right to meet. We take it incredibly seriously.”
Relating to the events of the last year surrounding Coronavirus, Hutton said: “We have a deep debt of gratitude and one massive thank you to many people.
“First and foremost to the members. The support you have shown through this period has been critical.
“In addition, the support of our sponsors who continued sponsoring when so little cricket got played and there was nobody in the ground.
“Thirdly, the ECB. And last but by no means least, the employees of Yorkshire County Cricket Club who all took pay cuts and went on furlough yet worked tirelessly when they could to ensure the survival of the club.
“To all those four groups, it was a phenomenal achievement. Without any one of them, this club would not be in the position it is today.”
In 2020, Yorkshire incurred a retained loss of £125,000, something viewed as a significant triumph given early forecasts, helped by donation of fees from 85 percent of qualified members (a saving of £604,000) and staff pay cuts and furlough.
Finance director Hudson said: “We started the year with no Test Match and were planning to break even broadly and not make any significant debt repayments.
“Last March, life changed, and we were staring at losses of up to £2m. We urgently needed to plan an escape route through the year.
“Through a whole list of examples, which Roger has talked about, we managed to build the building blocks and were ultimately able to deliver an outcome in line with what we’d first envisaged.”
Hudson added that Yorkshire plan to repay £1m of its £18.7m debt this coming year.
Chief executive Arthur spoke of another challenging year ahead, but his tone remained extremely optimistic.
“We have started well with complete sellouts of the Pakistan T20 international and the India Test Match,” he said. “That money, which makes up a considerable amount of our turnover, is now banked as the two events are backed by insurance and the ECB.
“At risk is the hospitality element. If no spectators, or a reduced number, are allowed in the ground, then we will have to refund that percentage which is turned away.
“Domestic cricket is going to be far more expensive for us to stage with or without crowds due to Covid protocols.
“The key match is the Roses T20 at Emerald Headingley on Friday July 2. If the government allows full stadiums by then, that will be a huge boost to us.”
Yorkshire are expecting only three LV= Insurance County Championship home games to be played behind closed doors – all at Emerald Headingley against Glamorgan on April 8, Northamptonshire on April 29 and Kent on May 6.
Should any crowd restrictions remain after that, Arthur, who stressed further information will be provided in due course, said: “There are plans in place for all eventualities. Fundamentally, it is members who would have priority to book seats for all matches.”
He added: “With all the doom and gloom behind us, we are looking forward to an exciting summer of cricket at Emerald Headingley, Scarborough and York.
“Cricket is a game of statistics and opinions, and my opinion is that this is the strongest squad of players assembled in my nine years at the club.”
Of that squad, director of cricket Moxon said: “We feel we are capable of competing in all competitions.
“I feel our squad has got a nice blend of youth and experience. There has been a lot of work done this winter. The key now is for the players to believe in themselves and trust those processes. It really is time to grasp the opportunity that lies ahead of them.”
Carr, director of regional women’s cricket for Yorkshire, Durham and Northumberland, was present at his first AGM and described the ECB’s introduction of the eight Regional Centres of Excellence across England as, “A watershed moment for women and girls’ cricket”.
His new Northern Diamonds side reached the final of the one-day Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy last summer, the only competition played, while T20 is added to the 2021 schedule.
He said: “We’re really proud to have two strong females leading our programme in (head coach) Danielle Hazell and (pathway manager) Courtney Winfield-Hill.
“The really encouraging thing last year was how our domestic players stood up after Katherine Brunt, Lauren Winfield-Hill and Natalie Sciver were recalled to the England bubble (after the first two RHF Trophy games).
“To make the final was a really good start in terms of our direction of travel.
“Our aspirations to be a Northern powerhouse in women’s cricket – the gauntlet has been thrown down.”
Amidst the official business at the end of Saturday’s AGM, Geoff Cope was re-elected for a third year as the White Rose county’s president.