BRADFORD'S MPs and council have reacted strongly to how Yorkshire County Cricket Club have dealt with former player Azeem Rafiq's racism allegations.

Yesterday, Lord Kamlesh Patel, of Bradford, took up the position of chairman as his predecessor Roger Hutton and two further board members, Hanif Malik and Stephen Willis, all resigned from their posts.

Rafiq’s allegations against the club began to gather major momentum following revelations by ESPNCricinfo over the contents of an independent report into the matter.

The report upheld that Rafiq had been the victim of “racial harassment and bullying” during his time at the club in two spells between 2008 and 2018, but it has since emerged that the panel determined repeated use of the word “P***” against the spinner was delivered “in the spirit of friendly banter”.

Yorkshire concluded that no employees would face any action as a result of the report.

This past week, sponsors Nike, Emerald Publishing and Yorkshire Tea have pulled out and the club have been suspended from hosting international and major matches. 

Shipley MP Philip Davies has called for a complete clear-out at Yorkshire, while Judith Cummins (Bradford South MP, Lab) says racist terms cannot be dismissed as banter.

Mr Davies (Con) said: “This episode has brought huge shame on Yorkshire County Cricket Club.

"It would appear that a clear out is needed at the top of the organisation, and we need new people to ensure there is a change of culture at the club so that everyone from every background is treated with the respect they deserve.

"There is no excuse for people being exposed to racist abuse.

“Clearly it will take time for the reputation of Yorkshire County Cricket Club to be restored but the actions needed to do so can and should be taken very quickly."

Mrs Cummins (Lab) said: "I signed the letter from the Mayor of South Yorkshire , Dan Jarvis MP calling for the English Cricket Board (ECB) to establish an immediate, comprehensive and independent inquiry into Yorkshire County Cricket Club’s (YCCC) handling of the original allegations made by Azeem Rafiq and the subsequent investigation into them.

"It is vital that this is dealt with quickly and transparently, so that everyone in Yorkshire knows that everyone can enjoy cricket and that using racist terms cannot be dismissed as banter.

"There is a lot of work to done, but if it is done properly then I hope a more inclusive and welcoming YCCC will emerge that will attract new fans and sponsors."

Bradford East MP Imran Hussain (Lab) was also outraged at how Rafiq's allegations have been handled and labelled the whole situation a sad state of affairs.

He said: “Cricket is a way of life for many people of all backgrounds across Yorkshire that helps bring us together, but the appalling behaviour shown by some at Yorkshire County Cricket Club sadly drives a wedge between people and shames the sport.

“I’ve also been horrified by the absolutely horrendous and tone-deaf response shown by the management of Yorkshire CCC, and it is right that the chairman and several members of the Board have resigned their positions as a result.

"It’s clear that we need wholesale change in the management of Yorkshire CCC to restore the confidence of fans, players and staff.

“Racial harassment and bullying is never ‘banter’, it’s racism, plain and simple, and those who seek to minimise or excuse such language are just as bad as those who use it.

"The fact the report into the behaviour towards Azeem Rafiq couldn’t recognise this also shows that institutional racism sadly still runs through so many of our sports.”

Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, Leader of Bradford Council, feels decisive action is needed to root out racism at Yorkshire.

She said: “We are all proud that Yorkshire is our home but these incidents of racism highlighted at Yorkshire County Cricket Club bring shame on our proud county.

"The club quickly needs to take decisive action to root out racism but it will take time to rebuild all our trust.

"Cricket is a game that many young people in our district are passionate about.

"It will be terrible if their talent is now not realised because they are put off when they see how this matter has been dealt with up to this point.

"Racism has no place in our society.

"We all have a responsibility to confront it unequivocally whenever we come across it.”