Bankers demand an end to long innings of team running Yorkshire cricket

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The Independent Online

Yorkshire's county cricket club, which for years refused to field players not born locally, is feeling the icy wind of modern finance blowing through its historic Headingley ground.

Yorkshire's county cricket club, which for years refused to field players not born locally, is feeling the icy wind of modern finance blowing through its historic Headingley ground.

Amid a deepening financial crisis, its bankers, HSBC, are believed to be insisting that a doubling of the club's overdraft – to £10m – is dependent on scrapping its powerful, if anachronistic, controlling committee. It should have been a triumphant year for the Leeds-based club, which won the county championship last year. Instead, the club has suffered its first financial loss in 10 years and poor form at the crease.

In April, the club called in West Yorkshire Police after goods and cash worth £100,000 could not be accounted for. Detectives said a "complete breakdown" in stock-control systems, including a lack of barcodes and till receipts in the club shop, had prevented them from establishing how the losses had been incurred.

The club's auditors, Grant Thornton, have raised concerns about credit card sales after money was lost on international matches at Headingley because customers were sent tickets without paying.

It's all rather typical of Yorkshire, an often contrary county never far from controversy. New gates at Headingley to celebrate Sir Len Hutton caused uproar last year because one corner depicted two women in Muslim dress. A former captain, Brian Close, called it "political correctness gone mad" and another member of the establishment blamed the chief executive, Chris Hassell. "[He's] a southerner, what do you expect?" the man said.

There have also been accusations that Yorkshire's wealth of Asian cricket talent is woefully under-represented. The Indian batsman Sachin Tendulkar remains the only Asian to play at top level for the club, despite flourishing Asian cricket leagues and near-manic local support. Despite a thriving youth academy that has produced England players such as Michael Vaughan and Darren Gough, the club is short of cash.

The club has seen a fall in the value of its investments as ground redevelopment costs rose from £9.8m to £11.8m because of safety requirements.

Yorkshire's 12-man area-based committee is seen as too unwieldy. "The committee men depend on the loyalty of hundreds of members in their patch and young successful businessmen don't get a look in," said one club observer.

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