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George Galloway MP offers to broker a solution
Bradford’s passion for cricket was on display at a protest rally held by Manningham Mills club against its ejection from the city’s premier league.
The 150-year-old club was voted out of The JCT600 Bradford League last week after a season-long wrangle over unpaid fines and ground improvements turned into a crisis.
Now one of the city’s most successful clubs is adrift with no-one to play – unless an extra-ordinary solution can be found.
Some 100 players and supporters turned up at the club last night to show their frustration at what they see as disproportionate punishment.
Bradford West MP George Galloway last night offered to mediate in the matter.
The Respect MP said: “I have been contacted by many constituents about the drastic step of expelling the club.
“I don’t pretend to know all of the facts of this matter, nor am I saying the club has been blameless.
“There have been problems, particularly over the payment of fines, but as I understand it all of the money owed has been paid to the league.
“I am more than happy to try to broker a satisfactory conclusion between the club and the league.
“Expelling this club with a very long history and some outstanding alumni would be a tragedy. Let’s get round the table and work out a solution which gives Manningham Mills a future and which protects and strengthens the league.
“Everyone knows that Manningham is a severely disadvantaged area, effectively destroying a notable community asset would be a tragedy. Let’s ensure that does not happen.”
Manningham Mills Cricket Club chairman Michael Kaye admitted there had been problems stemming from non-payment of a £75 fine which mushroomed, but insisted the real issue had been lack of communication by the League.
Supporter Mohammed Hussain, a social worker, summed up the general mood of the club: “These are minor and trivial concerns which can all be solved.
“This is an elite club which feeds young players to Yorkshire and those such as Adil Rashid who go on to play for England.
“Manningham Mills produces amazing players and it’s a great community asset.”
Ward Councillor Ishtiaq Ahmed (Respect) is a former captain at the club and was there to lend his support. “This is a great club and I believe the League’s behaviour has been disproportionate,” he said.
“This could destroy the club and is putting up barriers rather than supporting the inner city.”
The League’s management board issued the following statement: “As a consequence of a number of serious issues which have arisen during the 2013 season, involving Manningham Mills Cricket Club’s breach of the Bradford Cricket League’s rules and standards, including non-payment of dues to the league, the remaining 25 constituent clubs, affiliated to the League, were asked to consider Manningham Mills’ future membership.
“At an Extraordinary General Meeting on 19th September 2013, a representative from each of the constituent clubs was requested to vote on a resolution as to whether Manningham Mills should remain members of the league.
“Having regard to all the facts, including representation from Manningham Mills, the result confirmed by 17 to seven with one abstention that Manningham Mills Cricket Club’s membership of the League should be discontinued, with immediate effect.
“The ballot was limited to member clubs only, the management board did not participate or offer any recommendation as to how the clubs should vote.”