County news March 26, 2016

Boycott rebuffed by Yorkshire members

Geoffrey Boycott has been rebuffed by Yorkshire members © Getty Images

Geoffrey Boycott has experienced something that at one time sounded impossible: he has lost a vote from his beloved Yorkshire members.

Boycott's attempt to rejoin Yorkshire's board has failed after his candidacy was rejected by 758 votes to 602 by Yorkshire members at the annual general meeting on Saturday.

Boycott was driven by the desire to question further development at Headingley with the club about £22m in debt. The rugby stand, which has a dual purpose and divides the cricket ground from the Leeds Rhinos rugby league ground, is decrepit and badly needs replacing.

Yorkshire are enjoying one of the most successful - and peaceful - periods in a generation, having won successive Championship titles and also announced a profit of £368,000 in 2015, their first profit since 2009.

Boycott had promised that he would not interfere in cricket matters if elected, stressing that he wished to ensure that the club spent within its limits.

His calls for austerity differed from other board members and candidates who are adamant that Headingley must upgrade to reclaim its status as a major international venue at a time when Cardiff and Chester-le-Street are under pressure as well as ensure it is equipped to deal with any future growth in England's T20 competition.

Leeds Rhinos' parent company, Leeds CF & AC, also regard a new rugby stand as essential and anticipate support from Leeds City Council and Welcome to Yorkshire, the tourist board.

Boycott accepted his defeat graciously, saying: "I didn't put up to win or lose. I thought I could do some good for the club. I just want everyone to know that I love the club, it's been part of my life for 60 years, I love its history, its traditions and I know many of the members, personally.

"I just wanted to put some points of view, some opinions to help. It's not going to change anything. I'll be watching and supporting the team as I've always done. We have a very good set of players, an excellent coach, good management behind the scenes - they're a pleasure to watch. I'll be here of the first match of the season. I'm disappointed - but nothing's changed."

Even Michael Vaughan, a former England and Yorkshire captain, backed the stance, saying: "He's 75 years of age. Come on Geoffrey, go and have a game of golf!"

Yorkshire's chief executive Mark Arthur, former chairman Robin Smith and Sir Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire were all voted onto the board.

Steve Denison, who was elected as Yorkshire's chairman in March, had also dared to oppose Boycott rejoining the board, insisting in a letter to members that the club needed specialist skills to deal with their financial situation.

Denison, a partner at PwC in Leeds, has vowed to reduce Yorkshire's debt which largely arises from the need to buy Headingley. "We've had this pile of debt for too long," he said upon his appointment a year ago. "It's there for good reason, but we need to get rid of it. Over the next five to 10 years, we need to make sure that we're paying down if not all of that debt then substantially all of it. That's my No 1 priority."

Denison said of Boycott: "He's a legend of the club and we want to see him at Headingley at every possible opportunity. He'll always be welcome here so let's hope that's what happens going forward."

John Hampshire, a former team-mate of Boycott, who left the club in the 1980s railing against constant in-fighting, has been named as the club's new president in succession to the former player and umpire Dickie Bird.

David Hopps is a general editor at ESPNcricinfo @davidkhopps