Yorkshire racism crisis – ‘I have moved on with my life’ Andrew Gale refuses to defend ECB racism charge

Yorkshire racism crisis - 'I have moved on with my life' Andrew Gale refuses to defend ECB racism charge

Andrew Gale, the former Yorkshire head coach, will refuse to defend himself against ECB charges that he has brought the game into disrepute because of his alleged role in the Azeem Rafiq racism allegations.

Gale, who is one of seven people to be charged by the ECB, has broken his silence for the first time since he was sacked by Yorkshire in December.

“I am not willing to take part in a tainted process,” Gale wrote in a post on Facebook. “I am moving on with my life.”

In a lengthy and wide-ranging statement, Gale:

  • Castigates the ECB, Yorkshire and others for pre-judging the issue and says he has no confidence of a fair hearing.

  • Complains that he was not interviewed during the ECB’s own inquiry, even though he had expressed a willingness to take part.
  • Reveals that he has moved on from cricket and has started a joinery business in Yorkshire with his cousin.
  • Challenges Yorkshire to confirm or deny his suspicion that a mass removal of 16 members of staff was part of an agreement with Rafiq, during an out-of-court settlement of Rafiq’s own employment tribunal claim.
  • Lord Patel contended during the Headingley Test that Yorkshire had to act to avoid a real risk of bankruptcy, with sponsors leaving in droves and the ECB demanding rapid evidence of change if they were not to remove the club’s right to stage international cricket.

    Gale is also claiming unfair dismissal and his own employment tribunal is scheduled to take place in Leeds on October 31. It appears that attempts to call the warring parties before judicial mediation and agree a settlement now may have collapsed.

    “The Club agreed to attend a Judicial Mediation on the 21st and 22nd June 2022 but recently sought to postpone that process and gave the reason of the rail strike for postponing,” Gale added in his statement. “The Judicial Mediation would have been a great opportunity for the Club to reach a settlement with all the staff who were unfairly dismissed. We shall now let the Employment Tribunal consider any additional victimisation claims and the remedy that is due to us on the hearing on 31 October.

    “The Employment Tribunal is a court of law and is a more senior jurisdiction to the ECB process. I will be bound by its findings.”

    Only two of the 16 staff members to have been sacked or paid off by Yorkshire have been charged by the ECB: Gale and his fellow coach, Richard Pyrah.

    Gale complains that the identities of the seven charged players were leaked to the media, and confirmed that they had been correctly identified as himself and Pyrah, alongside another member of the Yorkshire coaching staff, John Blain, and four former England players – Matthew Hoggard, Tim Bresnan, Gary Ballance and Michael Vaughan, who this week announced he was ‘stepping away’ from his work with the BBC, following internal criticism at the corporation. The disrepute charge relates to the use of racist and discriminatory language.

    Gale is particularly scathing about the ECB inquiry into the affair and accuses the board of deliberately excluding him from the investigatory process.

    “I offered to meet with the ECB and to travel anywhere in England where they wanted to meet. When I chased up a meeting date, I was informed that the ECB had chosen not to interview me, but they clearly spent considerable amounts of time interviewing Azeem.

    “I haven’t had a single phone call from the ECB. My requests for details of the interviewing panel, and what the exact nature of the investigation was, was not answered. Accordingly. I do not share the ECB’s view that it has conducted a “thorough and complex” investigation.

    “I believe that we are being put forward as scapegoats and I simply will not cooperate in that process.”

    According to Gale, he had no meeting or communication with Lord Patel, who took up an emergency role as Yorkshire chairman in November, other than a single email which terminated the employment of 16 people in the most tumultuous day in Yorkshire’s cricket history.

    “Lord Patel quickly reached a settlement with Azeem in connection with the Employment Tribunal claim,” he added. “I was never invited to meet Lord Patel. He has never spoken to me or communicated with me. I am astounded that he took the action he did without meeting me. I have asked for the particulars of that settlement to be disclosed to me, as I suspect it was a term of the settlement that I and other members of staff were to be dismissed.

    “There was no right to appeal. To this day, I am still unclear as to the exact evidence upon which the club relied upon to dismiss me, save that it appears to rely solely on the previous evidence of Azeem.”

    Gale contends that the mass sackings took place because of a joint letter sent by employees of the club to Yorkshire in October which doubled down on criticism of Rafiq, levelling him as “problematic” and accusing him of an “extremely hurtful one-man mission to bring down the club and with it, people of genuine integrity”.

    He wrote: “Other than two individuals, all the dismissed / terminated staff were signatories to the October letter. If we hadn’t signed the October letter, I do not believe the 14 of us would have had our contracts terminated. The October letter was a request for information and communication. It should have been treated as a grievance letter. Nothing contained within it justified summary dismissal six weeks after it was provided to YCCC.”

    He rejects the charge that Yorkshire have been institutionally racist.

    The term, often misunderstood, always bears further explanation. It is commonly defined as: “Discrimination or unequal treatment on the basis of membership of a particular ethnic group (typically one that is a minority or marginalized), arising from systems, structures, or expectations that have become established within an institution or organization.”

    There is criticism, too, for the approach of Julian Knight, the chair of the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee which heard evidence from Rafiq in November.

    Gale wrote: “I haven’t met anybody who wasn’t astounded to hear that the chairman of the DCMS, Julian Knight MP, made a public announcement a week before the hearing to confirm that he had already decided that there was “endemic racism at Yorkshire County Cricket Club” and that he couldn’t think of any reason why “the Board should remain in post”. The DCMS committee accepted every word that Azeem said when briefly interviewed. Nothing he said was challenged.”

    Rafiq, whose testimony before the committee had included his claim that he had lost his career to racism, has privately indicated that he would have been happy to be cross-examined more forcefully.

    Gale added of Rafiq: “It’s fair to say that we didn’t always agree on team selection and tactics. Azeem was never shy about stating his view. He adopted that approach with a number of captains at the club. He seemed to have an issue with colleagues who captained the club, but my differences of opinion with him only related to cricket matters and not race or religion.”

    In the wake of his sacking, Gale said that he has moved into a joinery business with his cousin, and added that he felt that cricket had abandoned him after a 20-year professional career.

    “My career in professional cricket was destroyed on the 3 December 2021,” he says. “My income was cut off and my temporary coaching role with Hobart Hurricanes was retracted. I applied for a number of jobs in cricket but have become a persona non grata as a result of the Club’s actions.”

    David Hopps writes on county cricket for ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps

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