Yorkshire chair Colin Graves has issued a stark warning over the club’s financial position, stating that YCCC will be ‘fighting for its survival’ during 2024 unless urgent action is taken.

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In an open letter to YCCC members three months into his second stint as Yorkshire chair, Graves outlined that the club is in a “very strained financial position”. In listing the causes of the the county’s financial problems, Graves highlighted at £2.7 million trading loss during the 2023 calendar year, despite Headingley having hosted an Ashes Test match, with the club’s accumulated losses now at £9 million with further losses expected in 2024. Graves’ letter stated that £5 million of these losses in the period 2021-2023 come from “exceptional cash cost” which include legal expenses, fines and settlement agreements.

Graves’ return to the club leadership in January this year followed the loss of several sponsors following their handling of the racism scandal. The club also had to pay settlements to sacked members of staff who won claims for unfair dismissal, and were fined £400,000 by the Cricket Discipline Commission last year.

Headingley will not host a men’s Test match this year and have not been allocated an Ashes game in 2027. Graves listed the scheduling as well as two consecutive years (2027 and 2028) as reasons for the club’s losses and worsening financial position. The letter outlined that long-term borrowing has been used previously to keep the club afloat, with the amount borrowed now in excess of £20 million.

“Unfortunately, there is no doubt that without swift and decisive action, YCCC will be fighting for its survival during 2024,” wrote Graves. “The Club is approaching borrowing limits and owes crucial operating partners considerable sums, all while being consigned to further financial losses in 2024. We urgently need to take appropriate action to ensure that YCCC is financially stable, fit for the future, and – as I stated at the EGM in February – never put in this position again.”

In proposing solutions for the club’s financial position, Graves stated that an extra £4 million in funding has been secured during the first quarter of the year, but an extra £5 million is still needed during the summer to ensure a sustainable future. The letter also confirmed that the club was not relying on the proposed sale of Hundred franchises including Northern Superchargers – based at Headingley – to boost its finances.

Graves also restated his intention to change the club from a member-owned model to a privately owned structure. Fifteen of the 18 first-class counties are member-owned.

“As discussed at our AGM in April, the Club’s current status as a mutual society continues to prove a blocker to attracting private financing,” wrote Graves. “A demutualisation – thereby converting the club to a private structure, which unlocks potential private investment – appears at this point essential for the Club’s future.

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“My firm intention is that members’ current rights are protected and that a demutualisation would represent no change to their current interaction with YCCC. The Club would be better structured to be self-sustaining, still in existence, and to capture maximum value for YCCC from any processes such as The Hundred.

“Other county clubs, including Hampshire and Northamptonshire, have successfully demutualised and are realising the benefits of this structure.”

The update on Yorkshire’s financial position comes weeks after it was announced that their bid to host a Tier One women’s domestic side from 2025 was unsuccessful. Headingley currently host the Northern Diamonds in the regional structure, but have not been granted ECB funding to host a women’s side in the new domestic structure until 2027. That funding is worth £1.3 million per year. Reports emerged last week that Yorkshire were pursuing clarification over whether they would be able to fund their own Tier One side before 2027.