Nike cancel kit sponsorship in latest blow to Yorkshire

Four-year deal cancelled after six months as brands distance themselves from club

Nike are the latest brand to disassociate themselves from Yorkshire, November 4, 2021

Nike are the latest brand to disassociate themselves from Yorkshire  •  Getty Images

The sports manufacturing giants Nike have become the latest major sponsor to break their ties with Yorkshire, as the club's crisis deepens in the wake of the Azeem Rafiq racism investigation.
The deal, which had covered the club's men's and women's teams across all formats, was only unveiled in March and had been due to run for four years.
However, in a statement, the brand chose to distance itself from the club with immediate effect, saying: "Nike will no longer be the kit supplier for Yorkshire CCC. We stand firmly against racism and discrimination of any kind."
The news follows a wave of similar statements from the club's major sponsors, including Emerald Group Publishing, the title sponsors of Headingley Stadium, who said that they would continue to fund the venue, which is shared with Leeds Rhinos rugby league team, but would no longer support Yorkshire cricket, which it hoped would "respond with serious action to eradicate racism from the club and uphold the values we all expect".
Yorkshire Tea have also withdrawn their sponsorship, even though their particular deal was already due to expire, as have local brewers Tetley Bitter, who have a 25-year association with the club, and host a number of alcohol stands on the Headingley concourse.
"As a brand we strive to be inclusive and to work with partners that share these values. We are deeply saddened by the ongoing conversation surrounding Yorkshire County Cricket Club following the recent investigation and report, and firmly believe further decisive action is required," a Tetley's statement read.
"As such, we have informed Yorkshire County Cricket Club of our intention to not extend our official beer sponsorship with them beyond the end of the current contractual agreement. We are proud of our investment in sport in Leeds through these partners and do not want the actions of one club to impact on others."
Other sponsors to pull the plug include David Lloyd Clubs, who had suspended their arrangement earlier in the year; Harrogate Spa Water, and Anchor Butter, whose logo had previously appeared on the club's Royal London Cup shirts.
The latest developments follow the disclosure on Wednesday that Gary Ballance, the ex-England batter, was the Yorkshire player who had used the racial slur "P**i" in his interactions with Rafiq. In a statement, Ballance said that he deeply regretted his choice of words, but insisted that Rafiq had been his "closest friend and supporter in cricket".
In a brief statement on Twitter, Rafiq said that the issue was bigger than "the words of certain individuals", and that he would save his full response until he appears at the parliamentary select committee hearing on November 16, along with Roger Hutton, Yorkshire's chairman, and two senior executives in Mark Arthur and Martyn Moxon.
The ECB board are due to meet on Thursday to discuss their response to the crisis.