BARNSLEY man Azeem Rafiq has spoken out against the potential return of Colin Graves as chairman of Yorkshire CCC.

Graves was in charge of the club during the period during which they have since admitted they failed to address the systemic use of racist or discriminatory language – which was brought to light by former player Rafiq from Gawber.

Graves – who said last June in an interview that most of that was ‘banter’ – is now part of a group looking to take control of the cash-strapped club.

The board has approved the takeover and members will now vote on it.

Charities and MPs have also spoken out against Graves’ potential return.

Writing in The Guardian, Rafiq said that Graves’ comeback ‘exposes a failing game’ and the ECB’s ‘anti-racism stance has been exposed as nothing but words’.

He added: “All I have seen is self-protection, PR plans, and kicking the can down the road.”

He also said: “most painful of all is the fact that it looks like we have ended right back where we started. Nothing has changed. All we have had are empty words and broken promises.”

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Rafiq called on the club’s sponsors to reconsider their deals with Yorkshire, saying: “Does Colin Graves reflect your values? Is it acceptable to describe racism as banter?”

He added: “There is still time for them (the sponsors) to act, to leave now and stop Yorkshire stepping back in time and undoing what progress they have made in the past three years.”

But Rafiq hopes that, if Graves was appointed, he would behave differently to his last spell in charge.

“I still believe that everyone deserves a second chance.

“If Graves wants to lead the club and the game in a positive direction he can’t just say the right things, he needs to do the right things – not just words, but action.

“He has to show he has accepted what has happened in the past, and is ready to take substantial action and offer clear direction now and when difficult decisions are necessary in the future.

“It is fair to say there has been no sign of any of this yet.”

Rafiq also questioned the idea that Graves was Yorkshire’s only option, an idea which he said was ‘so disingenuous it’s quite scary’ and that others had offered to help finance the club but had been rejected.

The club responded by saying: “Yorkshire County Cricket Club and agents acting on our behalf have met with more than 350 interested parties to work through the validity of each and every genuine offer to refinance the club.

“No stone has been left unturned and a thorough and rigorous process has been conducted by the board to ensure the club stays operational for the benefit of its members, creditors and employees. We refute any assertion to the contrary.”