Yorkshire say that “numerous positive and serious conversations” have taken place following reports that the stricken club could soon be refinanced with money from Saudi Arabia.
Darren Gough, the managing director of cricket for Yorkshire, and Stephen Vaughan, the club’s chief executive, have been in Dubai trying to find a solution to their financial problems while the team has had a difficult start to the season on the field, including being bowled out for 106 against Glamorgan on Friday morning.
Vaughan said on Friday: “We continue to look into all of our options for refinancing the club, though we are unable to comment on any of the specific parties involved individually. We are, however, engaged in many serious and positive discussions about this issue.”
Vaughan reportedly met with Badr bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan Al Saud, a prince and government official from Saudi Arabia, in a last-ditch attempt to secure alternative funding to keep the club afloat, according to reports in the Daily Mail. Colin Graves, the club’s former chairman, is owed money, and Prince Badr has offered to take on that debt while charging Yorkshire less than the 4% interest that the Graves Trust is charging. Additional investments may be made in the future as well.
The Graves Family Trust currently owes Yorkshire £14.9 million, with a payment of £500,000 due in October and the balance due a year later. It is also reported that an Indian investment group is the newest consortium actively engaged in negotiations with Yorkshire. Additionally, they have a 3.5 million pound shortfall this year and risk not having enough cash on hand to pay their employees before the season is over.
Between 2012 and 2015, Graves served as the chair of Yorkshire. In 2002, when Headingley was reportedly 48 hours away from financial ruin, he saved the club. Graves also served as the ECB’s chair for five years. He wants to return to the club on his terms, which would be extremely unpopular even though it might help with the current financial crisis.
The Saudi government is increasingly utilizing sports as a form of soft power, investing in the LIV Golf Tour, Formula One, and Newcastle United, while the national oil company Saudi Aramco announced a global partnership deal with the International Cricket Council that includes sponsorship of multiple World Cups and a deal with the Indian Premier League. Additionally, Saudi Arabia plans to hold a lucrative Twenty20 tournament, and it is negotiating with Indian players who are currently prohibited from competing in international Twenty20 leagues to join.