Yorkshire staff WIN case of wrongful sacking in Azeem Rafiq scandal

Yorkshire cricket staff including former head coach Andrew Gale WIN case that they were wrongly sacked in Azeem Rafiq racism scandal and are in line for massive payouts

  • Sixteen employees were sacked by Yorkshire following the Rafiq racism scandal
  • Gale, second XI coach Ian Dews and academy lead Richard Damms all included
  • Coach Richard Pyrah and two strength and conditioning coaches also axed
  • But their claims of unfair dismissal were today ruled to be ‘well founded’ 
  • Comes after SportsMail reported that club had conceded liability in the claims
  • Debt-ridden county faces paying out vast sums in compensation and legal fees

Yorkshire Cricket staff including former head coach Andrew Gale have won a case that they were wrongly sacked following the Azeem Rafiq racism scandal and are now in line to receive huge payouts.

Sixteen employees were sacked in early December last year as part of a rebuild at Headlingley triggered by Rafiq’s accusations of institutional racism at the club.

Gale, second XI coach Ian Dews, academy director Richard Damms, bowling coach Richard Pyrah and strength and conditioning coaches Ian Fisher and Peter Sim were among the 16 members let go

But an employment tribunal today ruled that their claims of unfair dismissal are ‘well founded’.

Now the debt-ridden county faces paying out vast sums in compensation and legal fees after SportsMail reported ten days ago that the club had conceded liability in the claims.

Yorkshire published its 2021 accounts following an annual meeting at Headingley last month, which included £1.9million set aside as an ‘exceptional item’ covering ‘various costs associated with the racism allegations’.

This is understood to include settlement costs with the former staff and other liabilities.  

Former Yorkshire player and director of cricket Andrew Gale (pictured) is among six former employees who made a claim of unfair dismissal

Azeem Rafiq (pictured) during a testimony to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport Select Committee following his allegations last year

Rafiq pictured bowling for Yorkshire during a County Championship match against Surrey in September 2012

It also includes the £200,000 paid to Rafiq together with his legal costs and a pay-off given to former chief executive Mark Arthur, but provides ‘a provision in respect of those who have brought legal claims against the club’. 

A full hearing has been set for Leeds Employment Tribunal from October 31 to November 11, but there is a growing expectation that payouts will be agreed in advance of that date following the initial mediation today.

The six complainants’ cases were heard together despite being filed individually as they were based on the same set of circumstances.

None received severance money and are understood to have challenged whether due process was followed in the termination of their employment, as well as the strength of any evidence against them. 

It is understood that Yorkshire made settlement offers to the six individuals following the first preliminary hearing on May 6, but these were on a much smaller scale than those now expected by the former staff.

Gale, a double Championship-winning captain before moving onto the coaching staff, and Dews spent more than 20 years on the staff while Damms joined in 2011.

Sim, who discovered his fate while part of England Lions’ backroom staff in Australia, was with Yorkshire for four and a half years and has since joined Worcestershire. 

Lord Patel of Bradford, who took over as chairman of the club in November last year, addressed the racism allegations in the annual report ten days ago.

He said: ‘2021 was the most difficult year in the history of The Yorkshire County Cricket Club. While the world grappled with the ongoing impact of the pandemic, the Club became synonymous with institutional racism and appeared on the front pages for all the wrong reasons. 

‘We have been rocked to our foundations. You will see from our financial report that we have incurred £1.9m of exceptional item expenditure during the year. These relate to various cost associated with the racism allegations against the Club and have led to the Club reporting a retained deficit post tax of £795,000 for the year.

Yorkshire chairman Lord Patel addressed the allegations of institutional racism in the club’s annual report two weeks ago

‘This has a significant impact on the Club’s financial position and it will be necessary to complete a refinancing exercise over the coming months.’

An ECB inquiry into Yorkshire’s mishandling of Rafiq’s whistle-blowing on racism is yet to conclude but Lord Patel expects disrepute charges for individuals and financial penalties to follow.

There are fears within the club that any hefty fine would threaten the day-to-day running of Yorkshire, who are £17m in debt and currently living off advanced ticket sales for England’s Test match against New Zealand next month and a one-day international versus South Africa in July.

Any further legal action from former staff looking to repair damaged reputations may pose a threat to the club’s future and raise the prospect of the ECB being forced to bail them out.

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