Graves, 74, made his fortune as the founder of the Costcutter supermarket chain, and stepped in to rescue Yorkshire from bankruptcy in 2002. He served as chair between 2012 and 2015 before moving onto a five-year term as ECB chair.
Now, he has told the Yorkshire Post that he is ready to “ride to the rescue” again, with the club expected to report losses of up to £3 million in their next accounts, in the wake of the racism scandal that gripped Yorkshire last year and led to the suspension of international hosting rights and the withdrawal of a raft of sponsors.
However, his candidacy is sure to be divisive, not least because the club still owes some £16 million to the Graves Family Trust, as a consequence of his 2002 bailout. While Graves himself is no longer directly associated with that debt, the link remains a contentious one, with Roger Hutton, Lord Patel’s predecessor as chair, claiming that the Trust had been a roadblock to reform at the club in the wake of Azeem Rafiq’s claims of institutional racism, in particular when vetoing of the removal of two board members.
“The club knows my views,” Graves told the Post. “If I come back, it will be on my terms. I’ll work with the board. But I’ll run it how I want to run it and I know I can turn it around in three years basically.
“It’s up to the club. I know I can bring to the table what Yorkshire want at this point in time, which is healing all the wounds, getting the members back on side to being a members’ club, working with the board to get them in the right position going forward and to sort out the financial situation that they’re looking at.”
Yorkshire’s latest accounts refer to a “a material uncertainty” over the club’s “ability to continue as a going concern”, with their total debts believed to be in the region of £20 million. The servicing of these debts has reportedly been hindered by rising interest rates, while there is still the matter of the outstanding court case involving the former physiotherapist Wayne Morton and other staff who were sacked by Lord Patel in December 2021 in response to the racism allegations.
On the playing side, Yorkshire suffered relegation on the final day of the 2022 season and will have to play second division cricket for the first time in more than a decade.
A Yorkshire spokesperson added: “Lord Patel will step down as chair of Yorkshire County Cricket Club at the next AGM. A new chair will be appointed following a thorough, fair and robust recruitment process, to ensure that the right individual is in place and continue the significant progress which the club has made in his tenure.”
Other names reportedly in the frame to replace Lord Patel include Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson, the former Paralympic athlete who joined the board as a non-executive director last year, and also serves as a crossbench peer in the House of Lords.