Yorkshire faces eight-figure losses following the suspension of Yorkshire from hosting major international matches due to their handling of Azeem Rasiq’s racist claims.
The England and Wales Cricket Board announced suspension of Yorkshire’s hosting rights ‘until the country has clearly demonstrated it can meet international standards, ECB member and first class county’.
It is the county’s most significant financial hit, as sponsors have deserted the club in large numbers over the course of Wednesday/Thursday.
Yorkshire earned just under £10.5m from international ticket and hospitality revenue in 2019
Yorkshire’s 2019 accounts showed it had earned just under £10.5million from international ticket and hospitality revenue, compared to just over £3m from commercial income which would include sponsorship.
The club already faced criticism for the time it took in investigating Rafiq’s claims of racism harassment, bullying, and that was intensified when ESPNCricinfo reported this week on details it said were in the final report. However, the county has not published them.
ESPNCricinfo reported that an independent panel ruled that Rafiq’s repeated use of P-words against teammates was ‘in context of banter between friends’.
Jon Long, a former chief of strategy at International Cricket Council and now a strategic consulting at marketing and sponsorship firm Onside, spoke in front of the ECB’s statement on Wednesday evening.
He stated that the most serious financial blow to the county was the threat of losing future or existing hosting rights.
Rafiq claimed that racism was something he experienced while at Yorkshire County Cricket Club
Long stated, “Yorkshire generates greater money from sponsorship than a country like Kent or Essex, but the hosting of international matches is what makes it stand out,”
‘If we look at the revenue of the likes Yorkshire, Lancashire etc, it’s more then double some of those in the smaller counties.
“The main driver of that is hosting those international matches, and ticket sales and all that goes around that.
“There are no doubt that there are indirect benefits, such as naming rights. This would be the largest – think about Emirates Old Trafford, the Kia Oval.
‘You take away exposure that these venues get around the international games and it certainly reduces the value for those sponsorships.
Sponsors have severed ties with Yorkshire over the club’s handling of Azeem Rafiq race row
Headingley was scheduled to host a Test match against New Zealand in June next years, and a one day international against South Africa one month later. There would also be a money-spinning Ashes test in 2023. These plans are now in serious doubt.
Emerald Publishing, Headingley’s title sponsor, has resigned amid the crisis, as has Anchor Butter, who is its shirt sponsor. Kit supplier Nike stated that it was ending its agreement Thursday.
Long stated that the reaction of sponsors was not surprising.
“It’s not the first instance of a sports organization being in this type of situation. In situations where the issue cannot be dealt with effectively, or is not seen to be dealt quickly and effectively, it could snowball a bit,” he stated.
“The issue has become so huge that sponsors have felt the need to do something. The pressure has built over time.”
Former England cricket star Gary Ballance has admitted calling his ex-Yorkshire team-mate and ‘best mate’ Azeem Rafiq a ‘P**i’
Long stated that it was crucial for organisations whose reputation has been damaged to “not just be seen to act but actually do them”, but it doesn’t take long to rebuild trust if the right actions are taken.
He said, “I work with a lot of organizations where they’ll conduct stakeholder research,”
“First, they try to find out what people think and what the issues are. Next, they present a plan of work that they will undertake to repair the damage and rebuild their reputation, whatever the particular challenge.
“There are many examples where businesses have suffered reputational damage, and then rebuilt. It can be long, but it can be quick depending on how well the issues are addressed.