The return of Colin Graves to Yorkshire would “undermine the progress” the game has made against racism and “make a mockery” of those who have suffered in the past, according to the Sporting Equals charity.

Sporting Equals, which promotes ethnic diversity in UK Sport, has issued a strongly-worded open letter about Graves’ potential reinstatement at Headingley.

Graves was Yorkshire chair between 2012 and 2015, before taking the same role at the England and Wales Cricket Board, and heads a consortium in ongoing talks with the debt-ridden county.

The 75-year-old’s previous Yorkshire tenure covered part of a period where the club have admitted charges of failing to address the systemic use of racist or discriminatory language.

For his part Graves denies knowledge of any racist behaviour during his time but controversially suggested there was “a lot of banter”.

Addressing their concerns to sports minister Stuart Andrew, the ECB, county cricket clubs and sports, Sporting Equals wrote: “Cricket has been making an effort to combat racism over the past few years.

“Since Azeem Rafiq publicly exposed the deep systemic problems the ECB, amongst others, have taken action to address these issues.

“However, the potential reinstatement of Colin Graves as chairman of Yorkshire County Cricket Club would undermine the progress made.

“His reinstatement would send a message that emboldens those who perpetuate the myth that racism is simply banter, that it is enough to pay lip service to policies and procedures.

“It would make a mockery of the suffering of ethnically diverse players across the country. It would be a rejection of the ICEC Report’s thorough investigation and well-considered conclusions. This progress must not be stunted.”

The organisation then calls for a five-point plan to be adopted, starting with an independent fit and proper person test for prospective owners.

The other suggestions include a disqualification process “to rid the game of bad actors” and mandatory inclusivity training for those in leadership roles.

A spokesperson for the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) said in response to the Sporting Equals letter: “Cricket must be open to everyone and the Government has consistently called for action to address the culture at Yorkshire County Cricket Club following the behaviour at the county.

“Following the publication of Cindy Butts’ (Independent Commission for Equity in Cricket) report, the England and Wales Cricket Board set out plans to deliver clear and sustained reform.

“It is vital the ECB deliver on their commitments, and that Yorkshire County Cricket Club continues to make the culture change needed.”

In response, Yorkshire issued a statement to the PA news agency, defending the way they have gone about seeking the investment needed to stay afloat.

“Yorkshire County Cricket Club and agents acting on our behalf have met with over 350 interested parties to work through the validity of each and every genuine offer to refinance the club,” it read.

“No stone has been left unturned and a thorough and rigorous process has been conducted by the board to ensure the club stays operational for the benefit of its members, creditors and employees. We refute any assertion to the contrary.”

Rafiq, writing in the Observer over the weekend, appealed for sponsors to stand against Graves. Meanwhile Clive Efford, a member of the Culture, Media and Sport committee, told the PA news agency last week that Graves’ return would be “a disaster for cricket” and a “retrograde step”.

Alex Sobel, the Labour MP for the Leeds North West constituency which includes Headingley, is understood to have written to Yorkshire chair Harry Chathli last week expressing concern over the possible return of Graves and requesting a meeting. PA understands Yorkshire have accepted Sobel’s request to meet.