Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire CCC hit by another significant blow as Headingley sponsor ends association with club

Yorkshire CCC have been hit with their second major sponsorship withdrawal over their handling of the Azeem Rafiq saga after Emerald, the named sponsor of their Headingley headquarters, pulled their association with the crisis county.
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Emerald follow Arla Foods, the owners of Anchor Butter, in pulling their sponsorship of Yorkshire in the light of the revelation that the club would take no disciplinary action against any of their employees, despite an independent panel finding that former spinner Rafiq was called a “p*ki” by a current Yorkshire player during his time with the club.

Officials at the club have been summoned to a parliamentary committee later this month where Rafiq will give evidence in front of MPs from the department for digital, culture, media and sport (DCMS).

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And Yorkshire will be hit in the pocket with confirmation today that Emerald are pulling their sponsorship of the club, thought to be worth a significant sum to the club – although they will continue their “financial commitment” to the stadium, also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby club.

In a statement, Emerald said: “We have today taken the decision to remove our brand association with Yorkshire County Cricket Club and Headingley Stadium.

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“We do not tolerate any form of racism or discriminatory behaviour and the damaging effects this has. Our intention remains to continue a financial commitment to the stadium itself, which is also the home of Leeds Rhinos rugby, as we believe this supports the aims of diversity and inclusion in sport along with a range of charitable community endeavours.

“Emerald will however no longer sponsor Yorkshire County Cricket Club. We hope that YCCC will listen and respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect.”

Azeem Rafiq during his time at Yorkshire CCC - Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comAzeem Rafiq during his time at Yorkshire CCC - Picture by Allan McKenzie/
Azeem Rafiq during his time at Yorkshire CCC - Picture by Allan McKenzie/
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Meanwhile, South Yorkshire mayor Dan Jarvis has written to the English Cricket Board to request an inquiry into Yorkshire’s handling of the Rafiq affair. The letter was co-signed by a number of Sheffield MPs, including Clive Betts, Olivia Blake, Paul Blomfield, Miriam Cates, Nick Fletcher and Louise Haigh.

“Cricket is an institution in Yorkshire,” the letter reads. “No matter who you are or where you come from, everyone should be able to enjoy our beloved game.”